What you’ll learn in Master the Art of Storytelling
In our storytelling workshop, you will learn how to:
Master the Art of Storytelling
Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’
It’s “the most powerful form of human communication,” according to Peg Neuhauser, author of Corporate Legends and Lore.
Indeed, stories can help you grab attention, boost credibility, make your messages more memorable — even communicate better.
In this session, you will learn to find, develop and write stories that engage readers’ hearts and minds:
- Find the aha! moment that’s the gateway to every anecdote.
- Elicit juicy stories with the key question to ask during an interview.
- Organize your material into a powerful story in just three steps with our simple storytelling template.
“Utterly worthwhile, both to career copywriters and people who just want to communicate more effectively.”
— Meg Elison, social media marketing, Ripple
Color Readers Fascinated
Talk about a superpower:
- There’s a 1:1 correlation between concrete words and understanding.1
- Concrete phrases are 400% more memorable than abstract phrases.2
- Concrete details in legal arguments change jurors’ minds — and their decisions.3
In this session, you will learn how to boost comprehension and retention — even move people to act — with juicy details:
- Write like a roller coaster: Are you losing them in the middle? Test your message so you can spot and fix the boring parts.
- Keep them reading longer: Where to sprinkle “gold coins” throughout your message to keep readers engaged.
- Go from blah to brilliant in 15 minutes or less: Quick ways to add concrete detail to even the most tedious topics.
“The research Ann provided is going to go a long way in helping me support the strategic communications work I do!”
— Emma Cochrane, communications and government relations coordinator, NOVA
Play With Your Words
Surprise and delight readers
There’s a little piece of your brain — it’s called the Broca’s area — that’s responsible for helping you sort through all of the many messages you get each day.
Well-worn phrases and familiar ideas don’t activate the Broca’s area. Plain old ‘splainin’ doesn’t do anything for it either. But creative techniques like wordplay do.
In this session, you will learn how to tickle your readers’ Broca’s area — and cut through the clutter of competing messages — with wordplay:
- Go beyond twist of phrase: Learn to flip phrases; compress details; sub soundalikes; list, rhyme and twist — even coin new words.
- Find online tools that do most of the work for you: Walk away with links to some of the best (free!) wordplay resources — as well as ideas for how to use them.
- Polish your skills in our wordplay workout: Get “recipes” for creating 14 types of wordplay, from anagram to etymology to oxymoron.
“I am a better writer today than I was two days ago.”
— Chelsea Didde Rice, communications specialist, Ascend Learning
Make Magic with Metaphor
Charm readers with analogies and comparisons
It’s tempting to call metaphor the magic spell in a writer’s repertoire, the Penn and Teller of the page.
Metaphor has the power to persuade far better than literal language. It lets you say in five words what would otherwise take five paragraphs to explain.
It makes readers’ brains light up, helps them think more broadly about your message — even (ahem!) makes you look more attractive.
But, as with other forms of magic, you will want to master a few tricks before you step onto the stage:
- Get the zombies out of your message: Don’t let Dead and Dead2 metaphors eat your readers’ brains.
- Craft a compelling metaphor with our fill-in-the-blanks formula.
- Polish your metaphor: Learn which kinds of metaphors to choose, which to avoid and where in your message to place them from 41 academic studies covering 50 years of research.
“I loved every nano second. I gained my youthful confidence back. I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow!”
— Gary Burris, public relations director, Tec Labs
Paint Pictures in Readers’ Minds
Make their brains light up
Think of description as virtual reality:
- Describe a scent, and your readers’ primary olfactory cortexes light up.
- Describe texture, and you activate their sensory cortexes.
- Describe kicking, and not only do you stimulate their motor cortexes, but you stimulate the part of the motor cortex responsible for leg action.
But write abstractly — aka, the way we usually do in business communications — and readers’ brains remain dark.
Want to stimulate some brain activity around, say, your CEO’s latest strategy or that brilliant Whatzit you’ll be releasing later this month? Description is the answer.
In this session, you will learn to make your readers’ brains light up with description:
- Dig up descriptive details: Try WBHA, the most overlooked reporting tool there is.
- Tune in to sensory information: Use our travel writer’s tip for going beyond visual description.
- Communicate, don’t decorate: Use this tip to avoid stimulating readers’ gag reflexes instead of their cerebral cortexes.
“Ann inspired me to exorcise the dusty demons of my journalism career and embrace a livelier and more agile writer within.”
— Laura Ingalls, senior manager, communications, PetSmart Charities
Think Outside the Pyramid
Choose a structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers
You wouldn’t tell the Cinderella story by leading with the bottom line: And they lived happily ever after.
It’s a sad fact: Storytelling and the inverted pyramid are mutually exclusive.
In this session, you will learn a structure that will help you make all of your messages more fascinating and engaging:
- Organize your story in six easy pieces with our fill-in-the-blanks template.
- Test your lead’s attention-getting power against our checklist of elements of a great lead.
- Walk away with award-winning lead examples to model.
“Fantastic! Often times, I come to these workshops and speakers give good ideas but aren’t always scalable to a company as large as the one I work for. These tips are relevant regardless of audience size. So helpful!”
— Angelica Kelly, lead consultant, internal communications, AT&T
Get a Creative Writing Workout
Take your story from meh to masterpiece
In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing.
But in our practice sessions, you’ll get a great opportunity for reflection and improvement.
Bring your laptops and pieces to work on. You’ll get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.
In these practice sessions, you will:
- Master the techniques you learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
- Gain valuable insights on their own work from their peers and from Ann.
- Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for editing others or improving your own work.
“I feel invigorated and excited about writing again. I like that you incorporated participation, so we could immediately put into practice what you were teaching.”
— Danielle Rush, communication specialist, Indiana University Kokomo
I’m ready to learn to write compelling stories! I’d like to:
- Book Ann for an in-house or association workshop.
- Register for Master the Art of Storytelling, Ann’s two-day creative-nonfiction-writing writing workshop in San Diego on Feb. 19-20.
- Browse all writing workshops.
Questions? Contact Ann.