7 ways to tickle your audience

Have you ever tickled yourself? Maybe you tried for fun as a kid, and then realized it wasn’t very funny–literally. Well, the same is true for sharing stories. If you keep them to yourself, then there’s no magic, no sense of fun or possibility for the story to travel. Any storyteller will say that the magic of a story is in the telling, in the story itself, and in what happens to that story once it goes out into the world. In other words, it’s only when you tickle other people, or when they tickle you, that the fun begins.

There’s something to be said for laughter and for lifting people’s spirits. Even if you have a serious issue to convey to your audience, you want to make sure that they understand the complexity of the issue, and yet don’t feel disempowered by its weight. To give an example, say you’re trying to raise awareness about women who are victims of abuse. You want people to know how serious and widespread the problem is, yet you also want to give them the tools to create positive change for these women and to somehow witness these changes, however incremental.

Here are seven ways to tickle your audience so that you engage them on an emotional level and they connect to your product, service or message. Because, after all, that’s when the true magic happens!

1) Begin by discovering what fires up your audience. What are their passions, hopes and fears? What makes them dance in the streets or take to the streets. Write down three or four topics or themes of genuine interest and concern to them.

2) Narrative is a living organism that grows through thoughtful attention. Once you establish what’s important to your audience, craft a story that is personal to you, your business or organization, yet that you know will also resonate with others.

3) Ask yourself if your story has magic in it. Stories without magic don’t travel very far. In fact, they rarely make it down the street and into the sunlight. What’s magic? Something that sparks creativity and imagination in the receiver and engages them emotionally so your story takes hold.

4) Authentic storytelling is a creative, energetic force that liberates the receiver because the meaning for the story comes from within them, not from outside. Otherwise it’s just boring marketing speak. Ask yourself how your audience can ‘sign on’ to the story in this way. What ingredients need to be present in your narrative for that to happen?

5) Is humour an appropriate vehicle for your message? If so then consider using it, as laughter lowers people’s defenses and makes them more open and apt to receive what you’re communicating.

6) How can you get your audience to not only listen but to act–whether that means buying your product or service, or donating to your cause? To prolong the tickling metaphor, audiences want to be tickled but they also want the opportunity to tickle back. Give them a chance to do this by inviting them to share their own stories, to entertain you also with their insights and experiences, and to be part of the expanding conversation.

7) Once a story takes hold, give them still more opportunities to engage, see the story grow. That way they can witness what you’ve created but also what your community–comprised of them and others like them–has helped to bring into being.

We’d love to hear how you are weaving stories about your business or organization. How are you tickling your audiences into bringing about success and positive change?

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