Mar 3, 2020

Four storytellers you know and love. And sometimes want to avoid.

written by Will Staynes
in category Stories

Just as language has evolved and changed over time, so has our approach to the way we tell stories.

Albeit, with mixed results.

That’s why plenty of us will be familiar with that person who has the wonderful ability to regale family and friends with stories that you want to hear over and over again.

But at the same time, you probably know someone else who’s signature-style of storytelling can take a room hostage with stories that make you despair and mentally cry out for the ending to come ASAP.

Here’s a few other storytellers that come to mind.

The story-topper.

Picture the scene: you’re entertaining loved ones with a fabulous tale from school or work or a recent holiday. You’ve got them all in the palm of your hand as every intended cue gets the response you wanted.

But having finished your story before settling back to enjoy the adulation of your audience, one person interrupts your merry moment with their own story. This is the story-topper.

You pretend to enjoy what they have to say, but really, you’re just thinking about all the ways you can make sure that that person never comes out with you again. Even if they’re a close relative.

The *spoiler*.

The *spoiler* is someone that will skip to the end of a story without a moment’s hesitation.

They’d mercilessly tell you that Bruce Willis *spoiler* was dead at the end of Sixth Sense. Before letting you know that Dumbledore *spoiler* eventually dies too.

These people are the worst and must always be avoided.

The apocalyptic storyteller.

For the apocalyptic storyteller, their version of storytelling isn’t quite reflected by the idea that the glass is half empty. Rather, the glass for them has been smashed and everyone in the surrounding area has suffered severe cuts and bruises as a result.

A couple of years back, I went skiing with some friends, and our host for the week would ferry us between the different resorts. A lovely chap, but every one of his stories ended with someone getting injured.

Me: “Do you snowboard or ski?”

Host: “Used to. Both me and my wife did. But then we were both in an accident and we’ve never tried it since.”

Me: “How long have you and your wife known each other?”

Host: “About 4 years. We met after I broke my leg and she was in the bed next to me. She’d broken her shoulder. It’s still broken.”

Me: “Hey, I was just going to grab a few biscuits from the kitchen if that’s ok?”

Host: “Sounds good. Don’t take too many though. I had a neighbour whose entire family died because they ate too many biscuits in a single sitting.”

The muddled storyteller.

All of us should be familiar with this one. That person who has given up on proper story structure – accuracy – or key details. It’s usually a drunk parent.

They’ll start telling you a story, before realising that they missed a bit. They’ll ask someone else to chip in with a detail they know they’ve missed, and then berate that person when they’re not sure of what to say. Then after 20 minutes of making sure that everyone has to endure their calamity of a never-ending story, the muddled storyteller will muck up the punchline. Then they’ll make you feel guilty for not enjoying their story.

…ultimately, I think they’re all great.

I said in a previous post that, ‘everyone has a story to tell if you just give them the chance to tell it’. And whichever way people want to tell their stories, hearing them is always a pleasure.

That’s exactly why I started Very Telling. It’s why I’ve loved working with brands that want to put the stories of their audience at the heart of what they do.

So if you think you have a few storytellers in your organisation – or a few stories you’d like to discover amongst your customers and community, get in touch. I’d love to help.