Many years ago, back when I was practicing law in Philadlephia, I was told to work on my persuasion skills. I was surprised to find out that this meant becoming a better story teller. Over the years, I have kept that in mind. And these days, I find that being aware of the story components to just about everything I read and write is critical to my understanding of it. Errr … or lack thereof.
But what is storytelling all about? How does one do it better? Good questions. Giovanni Rodriguez offers some interesting insights for Forbes. Here is a section of his piece that I found particularly interesting
The great 20th-century Canadian communications theorist Harold Innis (mentor to the better-known Marshall McLuhan) wrote that fundamentally there are two types of media. First, there’s media that is space-binding, shrinking the physical world by connecting people across geographical boundaries (similar in concept to McLuhan’s “global village”). Second, there’s media that is time-binding — shrinking time by connecting people across historical boundaries (think art, history, and stories about the destiny of a people). This second type of media is perhaps more powerful yet seldom used by organizations and movements that might leverage the past in their storytelling. But with the fast-growing number of institutions that are struggling to be relevant in the 21st century, I believe that time-binding storytelling is the next frontier of communications.
I would be a bit more concrete. Most stories that we relate are about the past leading up to the present. Something happened that was amazing, outrageous, interesting, etc. It had certain effects, and here we are now. We are less used to stories that posit where we are going in the future.
Climate change is an issue that has forced some of us to confront future thinking. And that makes the climate change story very interesting. It is a real time experiment in how we as a species can shape our future by telling stories that stretch our current institutional frameworks. We do not do that very often. In the future, I think it will be less traumatic.