There are nine types of stories that arouse people's interest, according to author and consultant Lois Kelly. On the How To Change The World blog, she advises when pitching to others - be it in customer advertising, proposals to investors, ideas to the media, or appeals to employees or partners - you should tap into the strong storylines that we are predisposed to enjoy:
David vs. Goliath
From the young Israelite David taking on the Philistine Goliath to Southwest Airlines battling the big airlines to social media assaulting the media giants, people like stories of how a small organization is challenging a big opponent. Rooting for the underdog invokes passions.
Aspirations and beliefs
More than any other topic, people like to hear about aspirations and beliefs. Aspirations can create an emotional connection, and allow people to gaze into your soul.
Personalities and personal story
Personal stories are a good way for executives to reach out to others. They are remembered, retold, and instilled into organizational culture.
Avalanche about to roll
This taps into our desire to get the inside scoop before it is widely known - and profit from it. This story is also ideal for viral marketing, as people like to share the latest buzz.
These are similar, if somewhat different concepts, but they share the ability to grab attention and prod us to rethink assumptions, protecting ourselves from error.
Those advertisements warning baby boomers to invest more for retirement are an example of how companies can play to anxiety. But she warns us to go easy, as people are becoming skeptical of such fear-laden approaches.
Glitz and glamour
Our society seems addicted these days to glamour and celebrity, so you can latch onto a surefire conversation starter if you can link to something glitzy and glamorous, be it management wisdom from Harry Potter to an Angelina Jolie endorsement for your charity.
"How-to" stories and advice
People like pragmatic advice on how to solve problems, overcome obstacles, and find their next, best practices. To be interesting, how-to themes must be fresh and original, providing a new twist to what people already know or adding insight about thorny issues.
You can tie your topic into seasonal or major events, such as the Grey Cup or Christmas.