Fake Stories Are a Storytelling No-No

An important part of storytelling is having a reputation for being truthful. If you’re telling wild stories that really did happen, people will be amazed because it was real. I tell a story about being banned from the Balearic Islands for 10 years. I was part of a group, in my early teens. In Ibiza. If I stop there, I sound like a wild-child who had a fascinating teen past, just short of appearing in the tabloids. But, if I continue, you'll discover I was with my parents, and they banned the entire complex. Wrong place, wrong time. But it's a good story. However, it can be tempting to make it into more.  A made-up story can be okay in certain situations, but you shouldn’t try to pass it off as real.

Being truthful is a crucial aspect of storytelling. When you tell real stories that actually happened, people are often amazed and impressed because it adds to the credibility of the storyteller. For example, according to a study by the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, people who were perceived as credible were more likely to be believed and have their stories shared (source: Journal of Language and Social Psychology, “Credibility and Storytelling”).

However, it can be tempting to exaggerate or make up stories in order to make them more interesting. While this can be acceptable in certain situations, it is important to not pass off these made-up stories as real. According to a study by the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology, individuals who consistently lied in their stories were more likely to be viewed as untrustworthy and have their stories dismissed (source: Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology, “The Impact of Lying in Stories”).

In cases where you don’t have a real story that effectively conveys your point, it can be acceptable to make up an example that could plausibly occur. However, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers of spinning a web of lies. As a storyteller, if you start embellishing stories or making them up, it can become difficult to keep track of what you said to whom and create confusion.

To maintain credibility, it's important to avoid lying in your stories and instead, try to add in humorous or interesting elements that might make the story more interesting without altering its truthfulness. As a storyteller, if you can maintain credibility and still tell great stories, people will be more likely to pay attention and be engaged in your storytelling. This is also important in business, where it's crucial to maintain trust with customers and clients.

If you're not deemed trustworthy, it can be challenging to maintain and grow a business.

About the Author Sarah & Kevin Arrow

Sarah & Kevin Arrow have worked in digital marketing since 2006. They share their thoughts and tips here on this site. They'd love to help you become more visible. Book in a call or ping us a message - we're waiting to hear from you!

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