Ideas travel best when they are part of a story. From campfire tales to folklore passed through families, generations and cultures, to the fantastically popular TED talks of today, we continue to see the power of a good story well told. 

The video below, our most recent production in the creative communications space, illustrates our ongoing partnership with TED in the pursuit of its mission of “ideas worth spreading,” and, perhaps more importantly, it illustrates what can happen once an idea takes flight and transforms into inspired action.

Collective Next TED Partnership Video

It is no surprise to us that we are getting more and more requests to add elements of storytelling to the solutions we provide our clients. Storytelling shows up in the design sessions, leadership meetings and strategy sessions we design and facilitate, and it shows up in the assets we produce like learning maps, storyboards, animated sketches, and videos.

When we are asked to bring our visual talents to the table, we often start by asking, “Do you have a script? Do you have a narrative? What’s the story you are trying to tell? If not, maybe an outline?  What’s the main point? The idea? The moral of your story?” We usually push our clients to “get to 90%” of the story. After all, they know the content, the audience, and what ideas might travel best through the arc of a story. This is related to our belief content (story) before design, and about the most efficient and effective way to visually enhance a stories.  No sense making a visual theme of a winding journey to a sunlit horizon if you’ve switched to a rainforest metaphor in your story.

Writing a narrative is tough work on the brain, an intellectual workout. And, like a lot of our work, it is alos profoundly human.  The tough work/brain part is something that is expected and, with discipline, can be managed: outlines, organization, themes, concepts, feedback, voice, tone, flow, more feedback, iterations, re-writes, edits, and all that goes into the science of story crafting. It’s the other thing, the art of being human, that can sometimes take us by surprise. How do you show passion about an idea? How do you provoke emotion? And of course there is human emotion in the process. Can you be vulnerable? How do you deal with that feeling in a way that you can productively accept rounds (and rounds) of feedback?  And there is fear: What if the idea doesn’t fly? What if my emotion overcomes me on stage as I tell the story?

But of course the human component is not all bad; It’s not all fear and anxiety. Seeing your ideas well communicated via a good story — be it spoken, written,  or drawn–is exciting. That blood-rushing feeling of optimisim as the story comes together can be very rewarding.

The more we work with storytellers, novice and experienced alike, and work to craft our own stories, the more we need to remember that the journey runs these two parallel paths, the logical/methodical and the emotional.  The more we can be prepared to journey down both paths with our storytellers, the more likely we are to land at that final scene of a proverbial sunlight horizon, or light bulb as the case may be.