Why Your Perfectly Good Story Puts People To Sleep

Right story, wrong audience?

Cathy Goodwin


Image by Jacob Norrie on Unsplash.

Almost anyone can benefit from an understanding of strategic storytelling. Storytelling For The Defense was written for defense lawyers, specifically for those who defend the “bad guys” — big companies that don’t draw a lot of sympathy.

They have a particular challenge when telling stories. As they say, “Nobody roots for Goliath.”

The guidelines from this book, Storytelling For The Defense, could apply to anyone who’s going up against a resistant audience. Here’s a memorable quote:

“[The key to successful storytelling is] understanding the needs of your audience. All too often in trials, attorneys think they are talking to people just like them, people with the same education, background, and expertise on a given case… [The 12 jury members] yearn to hear a couple of ideas conveyed in language that is clear and compelling …a story that makes sense and engages them.”

I could have used this idea for a presentation when I assumed I was talking to people like me — and like most of the people I know.

Not to worry — this is a story about stories — not football.

I live in Philadelphia, a city with a football team that won the Super Bowl in 2017.

Philly thinks of itself as an underdog city so this event had an enormous impact. Now we’re seeing banners everywhere with the team slogan, “Fly Eagles Fly.” Thousands of people have purchased green shirts with the number of their favorite player — someone who has been compared to a divinity on social media. (I kid you not.)

A few years ago, I was invited to give a presentation to a group of people who worked in tech and design. The audience was local, live, and mostly male. I thought it was safe to use my favorite metaphor to explain website copywriting to football fans.

My favorite copywriting metaphor: the copywriter is a quarterback.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the theory goes like this. On any content creation project, especially websites, you can think of the copywriter as the quarterback and the designer as the…



Cathy Goodwin

Create a compelling marketing message that attracts your ideal clients through your unique selling story. http://cathygoodwin.com