Darren J Kerr
Dec 13, 2017

Why stories are at the heart of live experience

Forget gimmicks and technology fads, what consumers want is to be told a good story.

Why stories are at the heart of live experience

The live event landscape is awash with a technology tsunami, while the convergence of digital and face-to- face is becoming ever-more impactful. Brands are valued not solely by sales, but by ‘likes’ and the squatting rights of consumers’ front of mind.

Forget gimmicks and technology fads. What consumers and audiences want—what they’ve always wanted—is to be told a good story. People connect with people and storytelling blesses brands with humanity.

My dad, a journalist and a great storyteller, has four lessons worth keeping in mind for effective storytelling:

Keep it simple. Find the heart of the story

Capture and embrace the intrinsic humanity of the story. Be clear. Be succinct. Be ruthless. Shed any elements that don’t continue to enhance and drive the story.

Know your audience. Know their values, aspirations, needs and expectations—and then play to them. Create a shared purpose, a story and style that relates to your brand DNA, but also resonates with the audience.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should


Always preference substance over flashness. Your audience should be respected. Never over-deliver or over-tell a story. Allow generous ‘space’ for the consumer to contribute personally with their own self-discovery and re-telling of the story and watch it grow. This is particularly important in providing ‘working material’ for key opinion leaders as active partners.

Good storytelling is about craftsmanship

Describe your story in one compelling sentence. If you can’t, no one can—or will. Stories have heroes and villains, present challenges and offer triumphs. Brand stories should do the same.

For greater uptake, ensure the story is consistent across all platforms. Don’t get distracted by technology, gimmicks or, in the case of live events, the ability to draw on all senses. Keep focused on the substance.

More do. More show. Less tell

Visuals and physical engagement is always better for good storytelling. But here is the last and most important take-away: rather than telling your story, put it into action. This is the greatest strength the theatre of live events presents —placing people into evolving stories ultimately produces engaged consumers. 

Darren Kerr is show director and executive producer based in Hong Kong and plying his trade globally. An international award-winning business communication professional, Kerr’s recent projects include the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit Tokyo, Huawei product launches in Berlin, Nice and Barcelona, and the 65th Miss Universe After Party.

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