How do you get people to tell stories?

I liked this thread in Frank Chimero‘s talk at #Webstock last week. He talked about the power of storytelling and particularly about how to get people to tell stories about themselves.

He talked about forms on websites.

We come across them all the time. Registration forms, payment forms and social media profile forms. These forms contain questions. “Good questions get good answers, bad questions get bad answers.”

Some are simply too hard to answer, for example, Twitter’s ‘About Me’.

“Where do you start?” asked Frank.  How do you summarise your whole existence right there?

On Twitter, that “About me” profile question turns into “Please summarise your entire existence on earth in 140 characters or less.”

So you often get people offering up a list: I’m a father, husband, friend, designer, bartender and snowboarder.

“I think we’re more interesting than this,” says Frank.

And Twitter also has a great example of a good question:

What’s happening? __________________________

With this kind of question, he said, “you capture someone’s Id. Here’s what I’m thinking, doing right now.” Politics, dogs, sandwiches, feelings.

Frank went on to think out loud about what happens if we change the question.

“What if we ask: What did you care about when you were nine? What’s the last thing you changed your mind about?”

That could be much more interesting.

3 replies on “How do you get people to tell stories?”

  1. Definitely #foodforthought … not a new one but good to hear once again.
    AND, did you change you Twitter “bio” ;-)

    A full run down of the attendee notes for Frank’s awesome talk here: http://goo.gl/GYksC

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