Dry Storytelling

Keeping a story dry simply means removing details from it. There are occasions in a corporate setting that demand a dry story.

Last month I was working with a multinational food-products corporation in China. Along with my client Maria ( not her real name ) I was working on a story that could convey the following key message,

Consumers prefer small brands when it comes to making food choices. 

Big brands like ours (ours here refers to my client ) are not a brand of choice. 

To convey this key message Maria and I made a decision to do minimalist storytelling.

The story was told by Maria very simply like this,

” Today when it comes to making food choices the country’s ongoing food safety concerns are a big worry for the our consumer. Unfortunately, in such a situation a consumer prefers to buy from small brands like Yimshiji

Who and what is Yimshiji ?

In 2016, Matilda Ho founded Yimishiji, one of China’s first online farmers markets to bring organic and local produce to families.

Yimshiji is attempting to respond to consumers who are turning their backs on big food companies because they do not  address issues like transparency ,obesity, inequality and climate change. Big brands are losing consumers. 

In China when a consumer looks for safe food options sadly big brands like ours are not their choice, Yimishiji is their choice. 

Now, this is a very dry story with hardly any details.

Whilst we were getting ready with this story, Maria had concerns and she asked me a question that I was anticipating, she said , ” but is this even a story Anjali because you told us that a story is effective when it has elements like character, emotion etc ?”

Yes, Maria was right, some of the elements that make a story an effective one are

– Elaborating the character

– Describing a setting where this incident is taking place

– Building the emotion of the character

– Adding a dialogue to make the narrative rich

But having those details, in this occasion, for a corporate audience would not be the right strategy.

Why?

I know that in the modern workplace, people have neither the time nor the patience to listen to rich narratives. If I want to hold the attention of my audience, I have to make my point in seconds, not in minutes.

There is another bigger problem. Even if my audience did take the time to listen to a fully developed narrative, my telling it in that fashion would get my listeners absorbed in the character, leaving them with no mental space to start thinking about the real issue which is, ” Why, our big brand is not the brand of choice? ”

In other words, I didn’t want my audience too interested in the consumer. A minimalist narrative was effective, in fact, because it lacked detail and texture.

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