The 7 Types Of Stories You Need To Know (With VIDEOS!)

In August of 2017, we had a 2-day Storytelling Summit here in our Portland studio. Each of the attendees created their own story, and we filmed each of them at the end of the workshop.

To help them make the most of the opportunity, and so that they could decide which one story they wanted to tell, we started by breaking things down into the 7 types of stories.

What many of the attendees noticed, and what you'll likely realize as well, is that there are many more ways to use stories than you'd once thought.

Knowing these 7 types of stories is a powerful way to leverage the right story, at the right time, and seriously improve your communication skills.

summit 7 types.jpg
 

1. The Values story

This is a story of who you are as a person. It demonstrates a personal quality or strength that is core to who you are. The Values story is great for talks, presentations, and pitches as a powerful way to connect the audience to you as a person.

Chad wanted to create a story that could help him connect with just the right clients. He chose a a Values story so he could express his belief in working with people who are innovators and disrupters.

Here are some tips for making one:

Start by defining and reflecting on what makes you different. Consider these questions—who are you? What inspires you? What makes you unique? What motivates you? Try to find a specific quality about you that you'd like to share with your audience.

With that quality in mind, try to find a specific moment in time (a Plot Point) where you demonstrated that quality.


2. The Why story

This is a story of why you do what you do or why you connect with a certain project, person, or topic that you’re pursuing. It's a powerful way of building trust around your intentions with your clients and/or colleagues.

Cassie wanted to inspire her family to tell their stories and to pursue their dreams. She chose a Why story as her way of communicating why she feels this is so vitally important.

Here are some tips for making one:

List some of the reasons you do what you do, and work backward. Why do these things matter to you? Get specific. Reflect on your deeper motivations, influences, and experiences. What led you here? When did your connection to these things start? Avoid generic answers, and consider what unique experiences you’ve had that could have contributed to fostering this connection. It will often take you asking why several times before you get to the heart of it.


3. The Origin story

This is a story that shares how a business or nonprofit was started. This type of story helps to create a deeper brand connection while also fostering trust in your mission. The Origin story and/or the Why story are great for the about us page of your website, whether in writing or as a video.

You also may notice that the Origin and Why story can have considerable overlap. As long as the story is still clear, it's very good to combine these two so that one story shares both how you started and why you do what you do.

Ian wanted to share how he started and what his work is about. As a Coast Guard who also films weddings, Ian really wanted to create an Origin story that shared how he got here and what is work is about.

Here are some tips for making one:

The origin story is all about how you started, so you'll want to start by mapping that journey out. The challenge is to boil that entire journey down into just a few of the most impactful moments. You want to highlight the moments that really show your passion, the challenges you've faced, and the journey you've taken to get here.


4. A Vision story

This is a story that portrays your vision for a nonprofit, business, idea, or cause in a way that others can see it too. In contrast to the origin story, which shows how you got here, the vision story shows where you are headed. The Vision story is all about making your path incredible tangible so that your team, investors, or crew are all deeply connected to the mission.

Curt works for the water authority in Michigan. They have a few large problems they are trying to overcome, and Curt wants to inspire them to overcome those challenges with storytelling. He chose a Vision story so that he could express how he'd love to approach a very important storytelling campaign.

Here are some tips to make one:

A vision story is most often metaphorical. The goal is to create a very clear story that exemplifies what the world could be like if you were to succeed. The success of the vision story is related to your ability to create a very detailed and specific story-world so that your vision becomes tangible for the audience. It can be helpful to think five or ten years down the future, and what life would be like for your ideal user if your product, app, or idea is brought to life.

If you're making a film or video project, you can use a Vision story to connect the crew to what the experience of viewing the finished film could be in the audience.


5. A Teaching story

This is one of the most commonly used types of stories. A teaching story is one that is used to share a lesson or educate somebody on the why and how of a new skill. Parents often using teaching stories to share a personal experience that led them to a powerful lesson they are trying to impart on their kids.

A teaching story is one of the best ways of imparting knowledge. By using story it becomes far more engaging and emotionally felt, which greatly increases the chances that your audience will actually get the lesson, as well as remember it.

Coop really wanted to express who he was and invite people to join him on his journey. While he set out to tell more of an Origin/Why story, what came out of it was a powerful lesson, a Teaching story, about needing to put yourself out there.

Here are some tips to make one:

Once you know what specific skill or lesson you'd like to teach, the goal is to then wrap it in story. Consider a time when you learned this lesson first hand, or tell a story that shows the consequences of somebody not knowing this skill or lesson. Remember that the two biggest elements of a strong story are desire and conflict, so look to understand how the lesson can come as a result of those.


6.  An Impact story

This is a story of how a company or nonprofit has made an impact. It is often thought of as a case study or a testimonial, but what's critical to understand is that a great Impact Story will go beyond talking about the impact and develop a strong character and journey as well.

The Impact Story is a great way for you to show the ROI of what you do and as a way of demonstrating the value of your offering. Here at Muse, we often create Impact Stories of those in our community who have achieved great things as a result of their Muse training.

We didn't have an example of an Impact story within the workshop, so we'll show you a recent one we made on Muser Alex Widmer and how Muse has made such an impact on him.

Here are some tips to make one:

Brainstorm specific cases in which you've truly impacted a customer, helped them overcome a problem, or in which they experienced transformation as a result of what you do. If you're struggling, try jotting down a few statements of your company/nonprofit values, or what you claim to do, then identify clear examples of times when you demonstrated those values or delivered that promise for someone else. 


7. An Objections story

This is a story that first validates, and then reframes, others' objections. This is commonly used in a sales environment where you can understand the client's objection to making such a large investment or in following your approach to crafting their video. In many ways it is like a teaching story, however, it's a very specific case where the lesson is focused on overcoming a known objection in the mind of your audience.

Doug wanted to tackle the common objection about people talking about 'story' too much. You'll notice how he starts with the objection, and then goes on to reframe and share a specific example of how story has made such a huge difference for one of his clients. 

Here are some tips to make one:

Pretend to be the group you seek to influence and complete the following sentences on their behalf “What I hate about this is…” “What I fear about this is…” “What I want to avoid is…” In your hook, you’ll need to validate these objections/fears directly. Consider a similar experience you've likewise felt that objection or fear. You’ll then contrast the objection by reframing it through—you guessed it—further storytelling. 


Next time you're working with a client to 'tell their story', use this post as a way of getting clarity on exactly what type of story will best deliver on their goals. We often focus on the facts and features rather than telling a story, and even when we do tell a story, it's far too common that we tell the wrong one, or it's simply not strong enough.

Getting clarity on your objective and the type of story you're telling is a huge way to help ensure you end up with a strong story that impacts the right audience in the right way.

A huge thanks to Annette Simmons whose book, The Story Factor, played a large role in our creation of this post. We'd highly recommend you check out The Story Factor if you haven't yet! 

Want to really dive into story? Check out Muse Film School, our 12-week program where you learn to level up your filmmaking career in the best way possible.