Let me start with an anecdote from my life,
And I was stunned
The gentleman appeared over-friendly first and I began to feel uncomfortable. After a while I could not stop myself from asking him, ”I am sorry but I did not recognise you.”
He replied, ”May be you don’t know me but I do.”
I got even more perplexed. And he continued, ”Familiarity breeds connect too, and not just contempt. I am already familiar with you because I have read many of your stories.”
‘Oh’ and I heaved a sigh of relief.
What are Anecdotes?
Anecdote is a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be hearsay and therefore unreliable at times. According to Wikipedia, “The purpose of anecdote is to reveal a truth more general than the brief tale itself: to characterize a person by delineating a specific quirk or trait, to communicate an abstract idea about a person, place, or thing through the concrete details of a short narrative. An anecdote is “a story with a point.””
Everybody may not have long interesting stories to share yet we all go through some interesting incidents in day to day life. Those who travel and meet new people often may have loads of stories and anecdotes to tell. But we all meet new people and travel a little. Don’t we?
Fear of Storytelling
I find most of the people have a fear of narrating a story orally or in writing. That is fine. Storytelling is probably the second biggest fear we have after public speaking. In fact storytelling has a public sharing element to it, whether we share it orally or in writing. Becoming good in any skill certainly requires practice and becoming great requires load of practice.
To do anything admirable, we have to overcome our fears and hesitation. We may fail initially and we may even become a butt of joke sometimes. But the fear of being laughed at may prevent us from achieving our true and highest potential.
Anecdotes being short stories can be a good launch pad in the storytelling journey and can help you win over fears. Once you have gained confidence in narrating anecdotes orally or in writing, you can venture into longer stories.
Brand Building through Anecdotes
“Can anecdotes build brands?” my audience often gives me a confused look when I talk about the topic. “Yes anecdotes and stories are most powerful tools for brand building. Yet it is an art, you need to learn”, I end up telling. One needs to understand the nuances. For example how much of drama is good, how to use voice modulation and pauses to become a good storyteller, how to create mystery, how to inspire and so on.
Let me give you a simple example. You are a doctor and we are meeting for the first time. When you tell me, “Last month I was in New York University to present a paper on robotics in medicine, a member of audience asked me an interesting question….(and then share the anecdote)”, it builds your brand in my mind. It improves your credibility in my eyes because you presented a paper in New York (world’s biggest city) and you talked about ‘robotics in medicine’, which is a new topic. Subsequently I may get curious to know more about you and like your Facebook page. Over a period of time, as I read more about your achievements (in your Facebook posts), your awards, your education etc, your brand and credibility becomes stronger and stronger in my mind.
Here are some examples to learn and draw inspiration to start your anecdote journey:-
Remember the precious words of Ira Glass “Great stories happen to those who can tell them”