By Miriam Sarin
“A character is a work of art, a metaphor for human nature” – Robert McKee, Story
You cannot tell a story or an anecdote without a character. It won’t work. It rapidly becomes quite boring. What you would have told is merely a fact or observation, not a tale. It certainly won’t have the power, the reach or the depth that a story would have, because it has no character.
For example: If I were to present you with a map of northern Canada from the early 1900’s, with the coastal land marked in red, perhaps you’d be interested, perhaps not. It probably wouldn’t go much further than that.
If, as I presented the map, I told you that a British man called Parry (B) explored the coast, by ship, in the early 1800’s, we gain our first glimmer of story. Our brains perk up with questions, sniffing the air like bloodhounds: I wonder what that was like? I bet it was cold and harsh? Who else went with him? Did he have any narrow escapes? What is the story?!
It is through a person that a story truly becomes a story. Or as Will Storr, author of The Science of Storytelling, puts it, “all story is ultimately about character.” They are our lens through which we see and understand the world. This person shows us what matters, points us to the dangers, to the hope. We begin to live through them, emoting with them; what started as a fact is becoming an experience.
Experience forms a strong connection with your audience. Our pitch, our presentation, our speech, becomes a shared journey. It’s harder to say no when you’ve leaned into the relationship the narrative has created.
I believe the strongest stories to use when pitching or presenting, are your own, when you are the character, the voice, the heart. You become your greatest asset – you are now the one they relate to and emote with. And your story carries the credibility of authenticity.
So, go and tell your story.