The Power of Story

On a daily basis, we listen to presentations filled with engaging facts and mind-blowing statistical data. Most of the bulleted data points get lost in the sea of facts thrown at us over a 45 minute period. When this is over,  you might ask yourself–what the hell just happened?

Non stories may provide important information, but stories have a unique power to move people emotionally and move them to take action. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Tell to Win by Peter Guber, a book about purposeful stories that serve as powerful calls to action. Think about when you watch a great movie. You watch and listen intently for two hours straight, sometimes more. Not talking, commenting, moving or worrying about the world around you. You’re fully engaged in the story. What if you could engage your customers and prospects in this way?

Last week, I attended the Mckee Story Seminar in New York city. Four intense days of listening to Robert Mckee speak about the principles involved in the art and craft of story design.

Here are some key lessons from McKee’s seminar, that all writers – in business or not – could apply to their stories:

  • Writing a story is an art form.
  • Quality story structure demands creativity; it cannot be reduced to simple formulas that impose a rigid number of mandatory story elements.
  • Write alternate scenarios for each draft.
  • Never repeat yourself – it gets boring.
  • Trash something if it’s not great.
  • It’s all about turning points.
  • Characters need to experience things they have never experienced before.
  • Conflict is to story as sound is to music.
  • Don’t write what your audience expects.

If I listed everything, I’m sure most of it would get lost in a sea of facts. If you want more information on any of these bullets, or to learn more about the McKee Story Seminar, call me. Nothing beats a conversation.

Matt Gustavsen

About Matt Gustavsen

Growing up under the influence of Boston sports' teams, 80's comic book art, Super Mario Bros., and Shogun Warriors – Matt has immersed himself in world full of creative stories, imagination, and competitive challenges. Combined with over 15 years of professional experience in print design and digital marketing, Matt has a knack for out-of-the-box thinking.

Learn more about Matt


  1. Vinayaka Halemane says:

    I attended McKee’s Story Seminar in Hyderabad, India in February and it was such an amazing experience! I learnt so much about story writing that I didn’t even know existed. I had to travel more than 350 miles from Bangalore for the seminar but it was worth it.

    Reading your blog made me nostalgic. The seminar is something I’ll cherish my entire life. And I’ll definitely be attending another one of them if time permits.

    BTW, is the picture in the blog post from the NYC Story Seminar?

  2. Matt Gustavsen Matt Gustavsen says:

    I am grateful for having the opportunity to attend the Story Seminar in NYC– it was an incredible experience and absolutely worth it. I’m glad the post brought back fond memories and I hope it encourages you to keep writing. Unfortunately, this picture was not taken at the NYC seminar, but this is how I remembered it.

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