The Secret Ingredient In Every Story


The secret ingredient to every good story is suspense. 

It's a feeling that pushes the listener to the edge of their seat, waiting eagerly, for what's about to happen next. We experience this every single time we watch a movie. The degree in which we feel suspense varies depending on the genre, but there is always a moment of anticipation we hold on to, even if we aren't aware of it. 

If we take a look at the current state of the human attention span, it seems a bit surprising that we still have the capacity to sit still and direct all of our attention to a screen for two hours. Mind you, the movie theatre gives us no other choice but to put our phones away so that we can fully immerse ourselves in the storyline playing out in front of us. 

It's during this experience that our minds begin to absorb the narrative, triggering an emotional response in the mental and physical body, that we become completely unaware of the process that goes into crafting a powerful storyline told through film. 

I recently read the book Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull. In the book, Catmull takes the reader inside the walls of Pixar Animation Studios and shares a glimpse into the practices and principles that have made Pixar an incubator where stories come to life. Catmull talks about this special kind of meeting called The Braintrust where every single person involved in the production of a movie sits around a table and dissects the storyline until it is a masterpiece worthy enough for the eyes of the viewer. 

Just think about that for a minute. The greatest minds of the animation world sit around a table and expense all of their creative energy into crafting a story made for you. 

Could you imagine if we put that much brain power into storytelling for our own business? Pixar knows that if there aren't people to watch a movie then there is no reason to make one. It's the same for any other business, if there aren't people willing to invest in the things we create, then what's the purpose of creating? 

Too often, we get caught up in telling our story from behind a megaphone, shouting out into the world to let people know that we're here and what we do matters. This doesn't work. We have to shift our perspective, get into the minds of our audience, and tell a story where they are the protagonist. 

Think about your favorite movie. What about the storyline resonates with you? What emotions does it evoke? Where do you see yourself within it? Why have you watched it over and over again? 

Put some thought into how you can translate that experience into your business and ask yourself the question, "How can I make my audience feel like they are starring in their own movie?" Keep asking yourself this question repeatedly until you come with an answer that will transform the way you connect with the people you serve. 

This is the first step towards creating suspense. 

As you begin to create a storyline that makes your audience feel like they are a part of it, pay attention to how they respond. If you do it right, you'll be able to see that feeling of anticipation reveal itself, and the people you serve will be waiting on the edge of their seats for you to tell them what happens next.