The power of stories is such an important ingredient and sometime may change the equation a bit where 1 + 1 actually equals 3, a simple reminder that the sum is often greater then its parts. Ken Burns, a documentary filmmaker and master storyteller takes us on a journey touching on the characteristics of a great story in the below interview.

He has three main take-aways that we can use when we try to persuade, sell or move others – The real genuine stories are about the things that matter the most to us, the other thing: 3….

Manipulation – all stories involve manipulation and we should be aware of this.  Burns reminds us that we should be in the business of moving people and making people care.  Stories that don’t elicit emotion aren’t less manipulative anyway – they are just really bad stories.

An emotional truth is something you have to build – Life has many different shades and the stories we pass along are here to help us see the complexity and get a bit of a better understanding of it.  Burns says what drives his work is an urge to wake the dead.  He has devoted himself to continually bringing people alive from the past – a compulsion born of his own past.  That’s an emotional truth he builds for us in telling his own story  – “We have to keep the wolf from the door”.

Stories transcend – Burns made a film about Jackie Robinson and how the situation challenged the fans and a nations view. The film explored the transition in many fans – how they saw it, how they struggled with it and ultimately how they changed.  This scenario plays itself out time and time again – where something out of your control happens and how you adapt becomes the story.

When you tell a story, does it have an emotional truth and transcend?  Here’s the clip of the interview with Ken Burns to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about…..


Subsribe to Henry's Blog...