The Power of Stories
September 8th, 2011 by Regina Brett
Writer Annie Dillard once wrote, How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
I thought of that quote as I prepared my remarks for the Content Marketing Conference in Cleveland this week. The conference was a great event, attended by more than 500 people.
I’ve been a journalist for 27 years. We used to have readers. Now we have customers. We used to tell stories. Now we offer content.
What exactly does that mean?
Content is too vague a word. What is content? Facts. Data. Information. Links. Ideas. Tweets. Blogs. Emails. Posts.
My talk was about how to tell stories. I think there’s still a place for story telling, now more than ever. Social media shouldn’t leave us feeling like we’re filling an endless hole with information. Our job as “content providers” isn’t to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks or to record everything as if we were court stenographers. We aren’t advancing or enhancing anyone’s life by presenting fact blurbs or mindless trivia.
I urged the audience to create and share content that is meaningful and memorable. Content that matters. The essence of the content is what matters, what makes the difference. Before sending out a tweet or text or blurb on your Facebook or blog, ask;
Is what you’re putting out there worth your life?
Is what you’re putting out there worth the lives of others?
Because people are taking the time to read your posts and tweets and web content. They are giving you minutes of their life. Minutes away from family, hobbies, friends. Precious minutes of life, which add up to hours and days over time.
Every time you write a blog post or send a tweet or post something anywhere, make sure it’s worth your time and the time of those reading it.
If you can, tell a story. Hemingway once boasted he could tell a story in six words, then did: For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Want to be immortal? A story does that.
That’s the power of stories.
That was clear tonight when I gave a talk to 80 people at The Gathering Place who have cancer. I shared how journaling can help. Women with bald heads wiped away tears. People who just finished treatment shared their funniest cancer moment. People who are just starting chemo shared their deepest fears.
We all shared the hope that words offer. We shared the power of stories. Stories that will keep us immortal.