The 3 Cs Rule – Successful Interactions

As announced last week, this weekend I took part in Ab Urbe Condita, a storytelling performance in Parco dell’Appia Antica, Rome.

As my colleagues and I were asked many questions both from the audience and the local news, I got the chance to think about something I recently learned about communication: The 3 Cs Rule. 

Sometimes you find yourself in the condition to speak or write about your project, your story or just you as a professional in order to convince somebody about the value of what your are talking about. You may write a cover letter for an application, pitch a project or meet someone who might be an investor in your carrier. How to communicate at your best? How to “sell” what you want?

Here is where The 3 Cs Rule steps in. The three Cs represents three key aspects that are to keep in mind in these situations.

  1. CounterpartAlways remember that what you are referring to is a specific reality. Don’t write identical cover letters, don’t go to interviews without doing some research on who your counterpart is, what they have done and what they want to do. Listen to them, adapt to them as they were your audience. You will be appreciated for that.
  2. ContextInvestigating your counterpart is important, so it is doing research on the context where your interaction will take place. Culturally, socially, economically. If you speak to them referring to specific elements to which they could relate, you’ll create a connection, a hook.  Hanging on the hook you’ll provide them will help them in understanding what you are saying and to get interested.
  3. ContentOf course, you can’t go there and just talk about nothing. You are there to show how cool you and your project are? Show them some stuff! Bring the things you have done in the past, bring data! Show arguments and charts, give them anything they can relate to, that can prove that what you are telling them is not only the truth, but the only option they can consider!

Never go unprepared!

But, most of all, go there full of enthusiasm for whatever project, job or story you are going to talk about! Don’t forget to pass on them the same sparkle you felt when you first got excited about the project!

They’d surely fall for you!

 

 

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Performing Storytelling

In media and business “storytelling” is a more and more known word used to promote a form of communication suitable to the dream-oriented society we live in. It refers to a communication strategy whose strengths lie on our perpetual need for stories.

“Storytelling”, though, is originally a word to identify a performing art. More precisely, the Storytelling Revival is a cultural movement started in the U.S in the late ’60 – with the aime of  studying, exploring and proposing the art of telling stories for a contemorary audience,   as an innovative yet archetypical way of entertainment. The pioneers of the storytelling movement felt that a strong action was needed to save the oral tradition from extinction under the threat of the “television monster”. In the following decades the Storytelling art  has been codified and practiced in many different variations throughout the world and now counts countless Festivals, clubs theatres and lovers all over the globe.

Storytelling is the art of comunicating through words, gestures, the modulation of voice and body language the images of a story to a specific audience. Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.” (National Storytelling Network USA Federation for European Storytelling)

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In Italy storytelling is performed and studied by a small amount of performers, most of whom are related to Raccontamiunastoria, the first storytelling company in the country, created by storyteller Paola Balbi – who came across the Storytelling Movement and trained in England – and co-directed by Davide Bardi.

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For a decade Raccontamiunastoria perpetrated the art of oral narration all around the globe telling oral stories mainly linked with the Italian tradition, from the Bible to Decameron, from legends to family anecdotes.

I have the privilege of being part of this wonderful, challenging and mind blowing reality. Thanks to Raccontamiunastoria I got the chance to approach narration from a different point of view, yet still working with creating images and giving them to an audience. I face insecurities related to putting myself in the hand of my listeners and viewers and I discovered more about myself in these last months than I have done in all my life. I can’t really thank Paola, Davide and Raccontamiunastoria enough for that.

Since on Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th I will take part for the first time into an official Raccontamiunastoria performance, I wanted to share my happiness with you and invite all of those who may find themselves in Rome to attend. In the beautiful setting of Ancient Appia natural reserve, Ab Urbe Condita and the legends of the seven kings of Rome will be told during a suggestive stroll in the woods.

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There is not much more to say, since performative storytelling is an art that can be fully appreciated only when experienced live. It’s like a spell, it can be cast only on people who take part to it. So, I really hope to see you there.

What’s up, Doc? – First 2016 Journal

As three months passed since 2016 started, I think we may say without consequences that a trimester went by. So I thought about taking the chance to recap a bit about what happened and what is going to happen to me – and consequently to this site – in the close future.

I decided that, every week, my articles will come together with a video in Italian about the same subject, in order to keep my Youtube channel active and to help those Italian readers who might find difficulties in reading my written English. Here is the first example.

Since January I have been working with schools. I plan, organize and host film laboratories for students from four to fourteen years old. I am planning to do even more courses, because I found out that I really like teaching, especially young people, who are an  unlimited source of creative and human stimulation. Consequently, sometimes my articles will be centered around teaching creative subjects.

I am currently working on several personal projects that involve writing. I am working on web-series, sketches, a stage play and, ultimately, a feature film. Those projects will take long before being decent to show, but working on them will surely give me plenty of subjects to talk about.

Among these writing projects there are some collaborations. First to mention is my partnership with famous Italian youtuber La Vergine D’Orecchie, with whom I just started a series of satirical skit called Lobby Gay, to criticize some Italian political measures against civil rights. Here you may find the first episode.

I will also do some projects with singer/writer Fabrizio “Eric” Florio, who recently made his first appearance on Italian television singing his rendition of Part of your world from Disney’s The Little Mermaid on Italia’s Got Talent. Next week my article will be an interview with him about his self branding decisions and difficulties.

So, thank you for following, stay tuned and enjoy Spring!

How much is right to be paid?

One of the first issues I had to face when I started to work independently in the freelancing market was: how much do I value? How much is right to ask in exchange of my creative and professional services? As I talked to those friends of mine who similarly live on the income they get from their newborn self-employed jobs, I realized that they are asking themselves the same questions I do.

If you are a creative worker it will be very hard to put a price tag onto your works, especially if you care very much about them (thus valuing them excessively) or if you are still too insecure about the quality (not to valuing them enough).

But to give yourself the right value in the market is important not only for you as a professional but to the whole system as well. Since the creative industry is now the most fluid and changeable, not to say the least structured, it is important to remember our partners and clients that what we do is a job no different from all the others.

Just because you work with creativity, it doesn’t mean you don’t work at all. Probably, many people out there are not capable to look behind the complete work or service you give them. They don’t see the time, struggle and study it required. If they think creativity is a sparkle, that your job is something everyone could do, is your duty to help them change their mind.

First, by showing them the process that led you to a level of quality no amateur could ever have. And second, by giving your services a price. Like any other professionals would do.

Now, the question is: “yes, but how”?

Here, now is the right time to compare with others. Check the market, figure out how much your “colleagues” out there would be paid for their works. But don’t stop there. Consider you qualifications, the type of service you offer. Do you help elementary school kids do their home work or do you help teenagers preparing for their high-school diploma? Do you make a pencil art work or a painting? Do you write a sketch or a film? The price, of course, changes.

And, ultimately, it would change according on who your client is. This is new, isn’t it?

This suggestion was given me by my wise coach, Sonja. Again she was able to see it right. I know that in usual economy the price of a piece of bread is the same, bought by a prince or by an accountant. But if you are starting today your self-employed job, wanting creativity to be the core of your work, I don’t think that you would go very far if you think you should ask the same price to every client.

Could sound in contrast to what I wrote earlier, but trust me it is not. In this kind of industry I firmly believe that, as is important to be able to provide quality and efficacy, is also important to keep in mind that what you are providing is not a physical object, yet an experience, a lesson, a strategy. While bread would be bread for everyone to eat, your products would inevitably be influence by who your audience and clients are.

You work with them, create for them, you know who they are and what they want. Consequently you would know how much they can give you. As Sonja doesn’t ask me to pay as much she would ask a CEO of a big company, so I ask accordingly, yes, to how much I value my work, but also to how much my client can give me.

This way we create a relationship, based on quality, experience, knowledge and trust, a relationship that can progress in the future.

As soon as I get paid I’ll let you know if it works. 😉

 

The eternal struggle of creative procrastinators

When you decide to finally give in to your inner voice saying that your true vocation is *insert any creative profession*, you initially feel relieved, like if you had finally spoken the truth after a long time of lies. You feel great, charged both by courage and fear, and you start working on your own creative job that, at this point of the story, is quite far from being payed with any kind of retribution.

You think that, as this is YOUR dream, YOUR profession, the one you had so much time and so much trouble to find, of course everything is going to be a piece of cake.

Hell if you are wrong.

You used to think that your parents discouraged you so much because of the competition and the difficulties buried in your profession’s fundaments, but is not the only reason.

They probably knew, as your are learning now, that in creative professions, you are less likely to find yourself inside an already set path. Unlike other professions, where you can image yourself being hired and start a nine-to-five career, in creativity you can’t follow the others, otherwise it would be harder to succeed. You have to figure out and make your own path, and work on it everyday. And, most of the times, you’d be alone with your creativity.

As your brain struggles to find ideas, languages, expressions, as you stare at the blank page and try to follow a schedule even if know one would care if you don’t, that’s when you start what I call “The Serial Procrastination“.

Suddenly everything seems to be more important than your work. Facebook, cat videos, emails (for me chores) seem unable to wait. And that is how you don’t get your shit done.

I asked myself many times why, when I had to prepare for an university exam, I used to have a ten elephant-pack concentration but, if I have to think of a plot, I am distracted as a three weeks old kitten.

I found my answer after speaking with my coach, Sonja. I went back to the day I said my parents I wanted to live with stories. I felt good, yes, but also a little ashamed and guilty, because in my family stories were never considered a job, they were nothing more than a hobby. So, back then, part of me felt like I had chosen a profession that deserved less respect than some others and, unfortunately, this affects me even today.

But if you want to succeed, to make a living out of your passion you have to give it (and, consequently, to give you) the right credit. You have to commit and struggle, as you would do if you were employed in a society.

There are many different ways you can try to find your own way to commit. There are routines, exercises, moments for feedbacks and motivational recaps. Personally I recommend you to read this amazing book “101 Ways of Successful Screenwriters” , even if screenwriting is not what you want to do. It really helps you to find a way to dedicate to a creative profession, despite all the mental arguments you might have with yourself.

And then, as Shia LaBoeuf would say… “Just do it“.

Photo by Giulia Linus

 

Back to the core

These last few weeks have been quite important in my life, both professionally and privately.

As a story editor, screenwriter and storyteller in training, I started working on myself as a freelance. While public relations, contacts, self marketing and promotion are still in the making process, I am glad to find myself already in the position for practicing a bit. I am currently working as a story editor for a private, a professor willing to write down a film treatment. I am helping him to do so, and he’s paying me for this job. After years and years of studying and training I am happy of this goal.

As I was working with this man I immediately realized why his previous attempts in film writing were unsuccessful: there was a total lack of substance and values in his ideas. As many before him, my employer wanted to put a series of images he developed before a story, a structure and values.

Because most of the time the images we develop aren’t original, but coming from other images we might have seen in the course of our lives, I think is really difficult to work on a excellent project if not starting from the very basic question.

“Why am I telling this story?”

Which immediately leads to the following:

“How is my story going to impact on my audience’s life?”

Seems strange to make this kind of consideration nowadays, when our new technologies make us able to communicate our thoughts so quickly that sometimes we tap quicker than we think. There are so many images, videos, words shared everyday on our social media  that there is no wonder we feel our minds full of suggestions and impressions we want to express.

But, If I learned anything in these years, is that none of these “immediate” communications, none of these images born from fading memories would last. Nor in our mind nor in our audience’s mind.

A couple of weeks ago I learned from Seung Ah Kim, a famous storyteller from Korea, the concept of “Dream Society” as theorized by Rolf Jensen. As the scheme below shows, we are in a transition period, from Information to Dream Society, a world where technology and pragmatism are soon to be replaced by a new desire of values, emotions… what I like to call “The Core” of our lives.

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What powerful stories and communications have in common is an evergreen attention to the core, an aim to find an inner value or theme in the image or anecdote one wants to share.

Once you are communicating (maybe through a story, maybe through a video or an image) just something you think is “likable” or “cool” or “funny”, you are probably not sharing something coming from your core. And that’s why it will reach a less part of your audience.

But if you share something because of the message behind it, because you WANT to communicate THAT something, because you feel like what you want to share is part of you, who you are and how you feel, then is when your message or idea come from the core, then is when you will be heard.

Otherwise, is just the noise of a tree falling in a snow-covered woods.

 

 

Storytelling in Commercial Creativity

These last weeks I have been attending an enlightening course held by the communication company D&AD about Brand Storytelling. Otherwise, how to best communicate to ‘sell’ a product, an idea, a mission or a project.

What was particularly pointed out by the professionals sharing their experiences, was that content is the most important item of a communication. You most know what you want to share with others, what  messages you want to address to your audience. If you can’t say it in one sentence, maybe it’s still not all clear.

Second, is never to forget who you are addressing to. Knowing who your audience (or target) is would inevitably influence your language and the channels through which you would choose to communicate.

Because any effective communication is based essentially on connection,  what you want to communicate, to whom and how are essential questions you have to ask yourself before starting your campaign.

Why storytelling, you would ask. Because storytelling has always been the most powerful way to engage audiences and, consequently, to sell something.

As Andy Orrick said, “The storyteller plays with the audience’s emotions, through the characters’ emotions.” As audience, we would tend to get involved in stories, in characters: is what we do all the time – at the movies, reading a nice book, even eavesdropping some strangers chatting on the bus. We love stories, we need stories, we live for stories.

According to a study conducted by Stanford University, stories are 22 times more memorable than other forms of communication, because of their inner engaging power. So Storytelling is and will always be the best way to communicate a message that would stick in our audience’s heart and, consequently, mind.

I am not saying anything new. Storytelling is being used in commercial creativity for decades. I am sure that you could name at least one commercial or ad you remember even if years had passed. I am also sure that you remember it because the story channelling the message the brand wanted engaged you in some ways. Why else would you think branded web series are so popular nowadays?

So, any fact, message, idea you want to incept in your audience minds – may they be future investors, employers, clients or students – try to turn them into stories. 

To engage your audience your stories must reflect the knowledge and respect you have of them and give them values, enrich them. Don’t be afraid to use archetypes nor – as Bobette Buster says “To show your weak spots and feel vulnerable”. Make it personal!

Stories are universal, the ways they are told are not. Remember to adapt your language to your audience: teens could be reached and touched by media and messages that adults or children may not even know. And, for safety, keep it short. Our brain ability to stay focused is less and less. (Maybe you didn’t even got through the first sentences of this post. If you made it, congrats! )

If you are interested in this subject, here is the link to the online course on FutureLearn website. 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Storytelling

One of the first essential elements of human nature is the need of stories and, consequently, of storytelling. We have been telling each other stories since we lived in grottos and, still today in 2015, stories are one of the most powerful ways to communicate, teach and learn.

As storyteller and writer David Campbell says: “Stories are a gift that will never break, every time you give it away it will be better, you can give it away and you’ll still have it but it won’t be no use if you don’t give it away.”

Stories have been the centre of my world since I was a child: I’ve collected them, created them and expressed my desperate need to share them through any channel I felt could be suitable, from writing to comics, from photos to films. Every time the power of the stories, their characters and structures were inescapably connected to the technique through which they were shared.

I have recently experienced the most antique technique for sharing stories: Storytelling. You find a story you want to share with others, you relate to it and to your audience, and you create pictures and actions through oral narration, in order to transfer these images and emotions to others.

To me storytelling is very similar to cinema, the most powerful tool to tell stories. There is structure, script, picturing, editing but, unlike in movies, there is immediacy and participation. It’s like your audience was with you while you were shooting your film. And every time is different.

I have never experienced such a powerful connection with myself, my audience and nature itself. I felt a better human being, a better narrator and, so, a better filmmaker.

I am a Storyteller.