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  • David Schaupp

How to Tell a Good Story (Part 2). The Power of Storytelling.

A few blogs back we talked about windows and walls... We talked about how human connection feels, and why it’s so rare. We ended with this conclusion: we all face barriers the keep us from connecting, and our ability to tell stories is how we break through those barriers and make windows.

Now as I write on what makes a good story I realize I am attempting to capture lightning in a bottle. Everyone from Socrates to Steven Spielberg has tried to distill what makes a good story. Many individuals more brilliant than I have even created “Formulas” to consistently produce good stories. At Matchlight we have studied many of these processes and have ultimately blended them into five steps. But.. before I get ahead of myself, here is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.


Don’t move the story until the story moves you.

This is so important, I’ll say it again. Don’t move the story until the story moves you. The secret sauce of a good story starts long before the telling, it starts at the listening. Everyone can spot a forced story a mile away, so before you start, make sure you have stopped and paid attention to the story itself. if you haven’t had a chance to check out our 4 tips to becoming a better listener, I highly suggest you give that a read here

For the most part, every story at Matchlight follows a five-step process:

1.  Introduce the Hero. The first thing a compelling story needs is a character for the audience to connect with and support. This can be a person, a larger group of people, or even the audience themselves. Once introduced, share details about them; make them human

*Once there were three young lads. Fresh out of school and good with cameras they wanted to do something meaningful.

2. Introduce the conflict. This is where the story gets interesting; something is wrong and it is affecting the hero.

*Looking around they saw a world where the noise was up and trust was down. Organizations with great missions were struggling to gain attention, and the stories the world needed most were going untold.

3, Introduce the Guide/Plan. This is where our Hero finds hope and direction. In many stories, this takes form as an actual old wise helper (think Gandalf or Dumbledore). However, at its heart, it is an introduction of a plan to right the wrong.

*So the three lads together decided to combine forces and start Lightmatch. A video company that would use compelling video content to help organizations stand out and connect with their audiences

4. Start the action. This is where the rocky music starts playing, and where most of your story takes place ending with the climax. The hero has the plan, now all that’s left is to carry it out with gusto.

*So they moved to the same city, found a house to rent, found an office to work in, bought some gear, and started doing their best. It wasn’t easy, and so many mistakes were made (actually so many). A global pandemic sought to shut down all marketing, and there were weeks where they couldn’t pay themselves. But the lads kept on keeping on, and finally, they started to see something growing. Previous clients were consistently receiving high social attention and their fundraising goals.

5. Show the results. Either a success or a failure this is where you show how the plan ended, and what effect on the conflict and hero it had.

*Matchlight continued to grow into the multi-billion dollar media conglomerate we know it to be today, and the three lads lived happily ever after ;)

Such are our steps for a good story (Hero, Conflict, Plan, Action, Results).

Next time you want to be compelling, whether at work or with friends, stop and give it a try. I think you will be surprised at the clarity and engagement that will appear. Cheers to good stories!


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