How to engage your audience with a story

By Published 26 September 2016
How to engage your audience with a story

There are two ways to share knowledge; you can PUSH information out, or you can PULL them in with a story.

Do you ever think about WHO you write your content for? If your answer is simply “my target audience” then I need you to prepare to get more specific than that.

Content that wins is content that relates, engages and provides solutions; and for content to tick all those boxes a specific audience is picked and a story is told. I’m going to tell you why you need to know who you’re talking to and how to structure your stories.

You can’t please everyone at once

Aiming your content at “everyone” ends up pleasing no one. It dulls your content and your “audience” won’t feel a personal touch.

Imagine it this way; when you engage in conversation with one person you pick your topics, facts and experiences specifically for them. You pick them because you know that they will relate and enjoy what you’re talking about. Now let’s put you up on a little pedestal in front of a crowd of people. You’re not going to pick the same topics, facts and experiences are you? You don’t know if everyone will appreciate what you have to say if you keep it specific, so you generalise what you say instead, to please everyone.

Nope, this is wrong.

When you talk to everyone at once, people get bored and move on. You’re not speaking to them, you’re spouting at them, therefore they have no interest in what you’re saying.

When creating content, you need to drill your target audience right down to who they really are. Don’t speak to everyone. Go back to that one person you were having a conversation with. What’s their job? What habits do they have? What type of people do they surround themselves with? I need you to visualise that one person and what their biggest problem/desire is. The more specific you are the better.

You may feel like you’re alienating other people within your target audience but trust me, that’s ok. This content you’re creating isn’t necessarily right for them; your next piece might be, but this one isn’t. By tailoring your content to a specific (type of) person, your words will speak volumes – to the right person.

Feel, Felt & Found

Now that we’ve identified exactly who we’re talking to and what their biggest problem is in which we’re going to help them solve, it’s time to find the right story to tell.

Mike Dillard (a renowned entrepreneur mentor and personal development coach) has often mentioned the “Feel, felt and found” method of storytelling:

“I know how you feel…”

“I felt the same way…”

“… here’s the solution I found.”

Those are the three essential stages you need to help you build a story. Without realising it, you do the same thing when you meet someone; you tell them about an experience or memory you had to help you identify with them and allow them to relate to you. Stories help people realise that you do know what they’re going/been through and that you have authority on the subject in which they’re interested in.

Your story allows you to present the solution to their problem in a manner that makes the audience believe that YOU’RE the go-to person they need to see about their problem. Use bridge words – “By doing this, this will allow you to do this.” Get personal with your audience about something that’s relatable, as if you were having a conversation with just one person.

It’s ok to get emotional

Sometimes keeping your story, mannerisms and language professional doesn’t do your topic (and engagement) any favours. It’s good to humanise you and your brand’s voice once in a while.

People connect better with emotions. We all feel them. Your specific audience will be feeling a certain array of emotions with the problem they’re experiencing. Address those emotions in your content and prove that you know exactly how they feel. The more you’re able to connect emotionally with your audience, the more they’re going to resonate and engage.

Remember, most people only take action when their pain/problem is too much to bear. If your target audience are currently experiencing hardship which takes its toll on them, either mentally or physically, addressing and relating to those feelings will help you resonate with your reader on a much more emotional level.

Author: Sarah Boyle

With a flair for creativity since childhood, Sarah has always sought out new styles using inspiration from her love of the web. Writing, drawing and design are her specialities, along with a healthy eye for attention to detail. WordPress, content and design fast becoming second nature.

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