It comes as no surprise — everyone loves a good story. From the heart-rending depths of The Green Mile to the magical worlds conjured in the Harry Potter series, and even down to the brilliant advertisement pitches from companies like Apple and Nike, stories shape our world, offer solace, and provide escape routes from the mundane.
Trevor Romain, an award-winning author and illustrator as well as a sought-after public speaker, knows this all too well. Over the years, he has used the power of storytelling to inspire, educate, and touch hearts globally. And he believes that stories told should resonate on a personal level, as they offer a deep connection between the storyteller and the listener.
But what makes a story so magnetic? How can it evoke emotions, persuade, and even catalyze change?
That’s what Trevor’s recent chat on Honest Conversations with Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani is all about. He shares some fantastic insights on why storytelling hits home for so many people. It’s a rich source of advice for understanding how to use it to captivate hearts and minds.
What Is the Power of Storytelling?
The way you tell a story can evoke deep emotions, build empathy, and foster connections. When your experiences or messages are shared through storytelling, it allows other people to have a deeper understanding of various perspectives and worlds that are different from their own.
“A good story makes somebody feel something.”
— Trevor Romain
For example, the movie The Pursuit of Happyness offers a personal insight into the life and struggle of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who becomes homeless with his young son. It takes the audience on an emotional journey, allowing them to empathize deeply with Gardner’s experiences.
“If somebody comes in and they say, ‘Man, you know, I once went through something like that,’ and share a story,” he adds, “you’re immediately creating a connection with that person.”
That’s a lot of why storytelling is important. In fact, research shows that stories are easier for people to understand and enjoy compared to dry, factual information. This is because storytelling taps into our natural way of communicating, making complex information accessible and engaging.
It’s not only an art, no. It’s a journey towards a heart-centered life, a path where you can come to understand yourself better through the magical world of words.
What Are the Principles of Storytelling?
So what makes a story good and engaging? That’s where the principles of storytelling come in—the aim is to understand what works best, from the structure of the story to the way it’s delivered, so that it resonates with the audience.
Here are some principles that every great storyteller should keep in mind:
- Character development. Creating well-rounded, relatable characters can help forge a strong connection with the audience, allowing them to see parts of themselves in the story and encouraging them to be more engaged.
- Plot structure. Developing a clear and engaging plot that has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end is vital. According to Trevor, starting with a clear end in mind can guide the narrative pathway effectively.
- Setting. Creating a detailed setting helps paint a picture in your audience’s mind. This makes the story more alive and helps people get lost in it.
- Dialogue. Crafting dialogue that is natural and purposeful can significantly enhance your storytelling experience. It adds depth to the characters and moves the story forward in an engaging way.
- Pacing. The story should maintain a rhythm. This helps keep the audience hooked without feeling either rushed or too slow. And in doing so, you create a balanced narrative that builds up to a satisfying climax.
Remember, great storytelling is a harmonious blend of genuine emotions, vivid imagery, and a deep understanding of the human psyche.
“Everybody’s got an interesting thing that has happened to them,” Trevor says. And sharing something from the soul can not only help you in feeling worthy but also inspire others to do the same.
How to Be Good at Storytelling: 3 Tips from Trevor Romain
So you want to get better at storytelling, and Trevor Romain has some advice to share. It makes for a perfect match.
With years of experience, he’s learned a lot about what makes a story great. Here are his top tips for telling stories that really grab people’s attention.
1. Tap Into Authentic Experiences
Start from a place of authenticity, according to Trevor. You can draw from your own experiences to create stories that are both personal and universal.
“I personally try to connect with something I’ve actually had an experience with,” he says. “So that when I am sharing a story, it’s true.”
So be honest with yourself and share your true experiences—the good along with the bad. This way, people can really connect with what you’re saying, and your stories will feel more real and touching to them.
2. The Role of Imagination
Believe it or not, your imagination is a well of creativity. So, make the effort to dream big and bring out unexpected and delightful elements in your story.
Moreover, using vibrant and lively descriptions can paint a vivid picture for your audience. It helps your readers dive into new worlds and experience unfamiliar yet exciting adventures through your words.
Trevor provides a great example in the interview:
Take this scenario: You’re walking down the road, and a woman is walking toward you.
One way you can go about it is like this: “I was walking down the road, and this lady was walking down the road towards me. I loved the way it looked when she walked.”
Or you can be as descriptive as Trevor: “I was walking down the road, and as I looked up, everything became slow motion. There was a woman walking towards me—she had very long hair; it was flowing behind her like it was in water. Behind her, leaves tumbled in the air, autumn leaves. And I heard the music of, you know, classical music, and I was in love immediately.”
The thing with storytelling is, it’s about being bold and imaginative. That’ll help give your audience a glimpse into experiences that are extraordinary and remarkable.
3. Connecting with the Audience
When you have a connection with the audience, the story strikes a chord with them on a deeper emotional level. And this makes the story more impactful.
Take The Pursuit of Happyness, for example. If it were the story of a homeless guy and his son, it wouldn’t evoke much emotion or sympathy.
However, it’s a detailed journey of a man who trusts his gut and fights against all odds to secure a future for him and his son. We witness his determination, his failures, and his triumphs—all of which mirror real-life struggles that many people face.
“When people feel a story—even if it’s just a straight forward story—if they can find something they can connect to within that story, I think it can be very, very powerful.”
— Trevor Romain
So when you’re sharing a story, remember that it’s not just about the words you use. It’s about reaching out and touching the listeners’ hearts, encouraging them to see, feel, and experience the story through your eyes, forging a bond that goes beyond mere words.
Tell Your Story
It’s clear that stories are more than just words. Like Trevor suggests, they can be about personal growth or accepting ourselves for who we are.
And seeing life as a series of stories makes every event a vital part of a grander tale, with you at the center of it. And the best part is, when you share these stories, you connect and grow with others, helping to bridge gaps between different people and even heal old wounds.
So, when life gets busy, take a moment to stop and listen to the stories happening all around you. It could be people sharing memories in a park, kids making believe, or even the silent ones that nature tells us. What’s more, you could find yourself in your own story and create inspiring chapters for your life.
For even deeper chats and insights into the real, heartwarming story of Trevor, check out the full episode on Honest Conversations.
Trevor Romain | LinkedIn
Tatiana Azman is a content writer for Mindvalley and a Certified Life Coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as being a cancer survivor, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.