What kind of protagonist is the most interesting

Storytelling method

Storytelling method as a tool for modern corporate communication

You will learn the basics of storytelling that make messages so successful:

a. 12 rules the storytelling method

b. 26 practical tips and Examples for a successful application of the storytelling method

c. Use in the business context as a communication tool for messages and for imparting knowledge with a central rule

1. What is the storytelling method?

The storytelling method is the art of putting the knowledge that we have as a message in the head of the other person. It makes use of the dramaturgical rules of the game of storytelling and is used in film and in business, among other things. The storytelling method is a powerful communication tool that is based on how our brain works and, depending on the application, can also have a manipulative character.

2. Checklist of the most important dramaturgical elements for the storytelling method

The storytelling method is based on some very old theories of dramaturgy. The beginnings can be found in the “Poetics” of Aristotle, or in works by Kleist and Schiller. There are basic ingredients that should be included in every story. You define what a story is.

If you want to learn the skills of storytelling, we would like to refer you to the storytelling seminar "The Effect of Stories" and the storytelling workshop "Stories for Companies".

1. The protagonist

First of all, the protagonist, i.e. the main character of a story, should be mentioned here. Often this is described by an archetype, which combines certain character traits into a kind of template and thus facilitates characterization. In order to further bind the viewer to the story, it is important that they can identify with the main character. This can be achieved in different ways: On the one hand, empathy can be generated, which makes the recipient suffer with the figure and makes their actions understandable. On the other hand, it is possible to generate sympathy, which builds up a positive relationship with the protagonist.

Example: The most interesting archetypes according to C. G. Jung were developed through American models of the film industry. There are a total of 12 archetypes that are universally understood and therefore do not need to be explained. These are: ruler, creator, innocent, wise, discoverer, rebel, magician, hero, lover, fool, everyone, carer,

Example: Another example of archetypes in the film are: hero, mentor, threshold guard, herald, shapeshifter, shadow, trickster. These types of archetypes are taken from Campbell's “Hero's Journey”.

Rule 1:

A character is interesting if he follows archetypal patterns and is therefore understandable and at the same time idiosyncratic.

Tip 1: Give your protagonist a little quirk.

2. The goal

Furthermore, the main character needs a goal that he can pursue in the course of the story. A distinction should be made here between the “want” and the “need” of the person. The want describes what goal the character consciously pursues and with full commitment, the need describes what the person actually needs in order to be happy. “Want and need” does not necessarily mean the same goal. Often the main character does not know for a long time what their real need means for them.

Example: The want and need discrepancy is often used in romantic comedy. For example, the main character pursues the goal of being professionally successful or winning a competition. But in the end, the character learns that they actually want a relationship with the person they have been fighting all along. Here the conscious goal and inner need fall apart. We as viewers understand this from the start and ask ourselves when the realization begins and the protagonist realizes his error. This creates comedy.

Rule 2:

The more relevant the goal, the more interested the viewer is.


The risk is to go too far in the goal.

Tip 2: Keep the balance. It should be a relevant goal, but one that is understandable at the same time.

3. The obstacles

On its journey, the character has to overcome various obstacles that stand in its way. These can occur in the form of internal (inhibitions, internal conflicts, etc.) or external (people, strokes of fate, natural disasters, etc.). The protagonist gets tools that help him to overcome them.

Rule 3:

No story without obstacles.

Example: If a protagonist achieves everything without any problems, he is unsuitable for a story.

Tip 3: Put the greatest obstacle at the end of the story.

4. The antagonist

In order to increase tension and conflict, a good story always needs an antagonist, i.e. the narrative counterpoint to the protagonist. This is often a different person who is completely different in character from the main character and stands in the way of their goals. However, it can also be located inside the protagonist. In such cases, he has to fight with himself and, for example, overcome fears or trauma.

Rule 4:

The higher the antagonistic forces, the more exciting the story becomes.

Example: With a strong antagonist, the viewer wonders whether the protagonist can even survive.

Tip 4: The strongest antagonists in development stories are usually found inside the main character. It's a habit or a trait. In action or adventure stories, these antagonists are usually embodied in other characters.

5. The conflict

Due to decisions and dilemmas, the main character gets into conflicts with other characters and himself. These do not necessarily have to be antagonists, but in the relationship with the protagonist they represent a further difficulty in achieving the goals.
Tension makes a story interesting. It keeps the audience engaged and increases their curiosity about the outcome of the story. Tension is created by surprising twists and turns in the story, as well as impending doom, which puts the protagonist to the test and distracts him from his goal.

Rule 5:

Conflicts show the narrative content of a story.

Example: If a story has several obstacles, but these do not lead to an internal conflict between the characters and there is no friction with other characters, the obstacles remain empty.

Tip 5: Check each scene for conflicts. If none are included, this suggests that it could be deleted.


If conflict is forced too much, the story could become breathless.

Tip 6: Make sure that the dynamic between tension and relaxation is right.

Every company that wants to assert itself in modern competition should develop a content marketing video strategy that often shies away from the topic of conflict.

Tip 7: With the content you create, go where the conflict is. Be tangible and take your customers or viewers seriously.

6. The emotions

It is particularly important to give a story emotionality so that the viewer can put their hearts into the matter. One speaks of the seven basic emotions that every person in this world has. These are fear, surprise, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, and contempt. These are understandable for the individual from birth and are independent of origin or skin color. However, it should not be forgotten that, depending on the country or culture, there are also socially dependent emotions which are learned in the course of life and which often differ from group to group. Depending on the target group of the story, it is therefore important to deal with the relevant and learned emotions and use them according to the intention.

Rule 6:

Stories are supposed to emotionalize.


The sound makes the music. The use of the right emotion intensity is crucial whether we perceive something as exaggerated or irrelevant.

Tip 8: Take the viewer seriously and trust them to be able to judge for themselves which emotion they think is appropriate. A bad staging can often be recognized by the fact that it wants to dictate to the audience how the scene is to be understood.

Tip 9: The trick is to emotionalize the viewer and not the character.

Example: The protagonist has not yet realized how far-reaching the situation is. But we as viewers understood it. We therefore find it all the more sad and tragic that the protagonist seems relatively unmoved. Because we know that the pain is still to come and we anticipate it.

7. The relationships

The relationships between the characters must be defined in order to make the respective benefits and influence on the protagonist clear. A distinction is made between several types of relationships, such as love relationships, parent-child relationships, friendship, enmity, work colleagues, competitors, etc.) Each relationship represents either a different kind of obstacle or help for the main character and their story.

Rule 7:

The higher the so-called give and take between the characters, the closer and more intense we perceive the relationship.

Example: The relationships in families are considered to be particularly intense, as they show a very high density of dependencies and mutual exchange. It is similar with love relationships.

Tip 10: With his “The Public Contract”, Roland Zag has developed a completely new emphasis on these relationship levels. The book is recommended to everyone who wants to get into the relationship levels more intensively.

8. The structure

The hero's journey is a popular way of structuring a story. Depending on the model, it consists of 12 to 21 sequence of situations. It is crucial that there is a separation between the familiar, bright world and the dark underworld during the hero's journey. The hero is forced to face the demons in this underworld. Furthermore, the genre of the story must be determined. These include tragedy, comedy and horror film. In the case of the typical drama, it is important to note the typical 3-act structure, which has its roots in the time of Aristotle ‘.

Rule 8:

Structure is important. But it must not be visible.


Too obvious a structure distracts from the actual story and appears like a woodcut and above all carries the risk of being predictable.

Tip 11: Stick to the inner needs and developmental steps of the protagonist and do not impose anything on him. A good story will then automatically approach a structure.

Tip 12: Use existing structural models to check whether additions need to be made to the development that has arisen organically from the figure. But do not develop a figure based on a structural model.

Tip 13: The hero's journey model is ideal for an inner development story and adventure stories. In a comedy or a classic drama, the 3-act structure by Aristotle is usually recommended.

9. The subject

It is also important with a story to think about what the topic and the premise is. The theme and the fundamental question of the story flow into the premise.

Rule 9:

The premise is the interpretive guide of the story.

Tip 14: Deal intensively with the topic and especially the premise. Adjusting the premise can take a story in completely different directions.

10. The target audience

The target group, or the listener or the recipient, is also central. How does the film affect him? What taste does he bring and what style does he prefer? Which tonality and visuality does the film want to convey and which is (well) received by the audience? What level of knowledge is required? Should the film be used to communicate with one another or should knowledge be passed on? What is the chance of word of mouth and how is it secured? What is the message of the film to the recipient?

Rule 10:

A good story is there for the viewer and not for the author.

Tip 15: Think of the viewer and write for the viewer.


There is a risk that one tries to speak to the audience by the mouth. This creates little new and, above all, little inspiring.

Tip 16: Let yourself be inspired by your own topics that concern you personally and then check whether this is also relevant for a viewer and reader and how this can be increased.

Example: Thousands of self-reflective stories that show the inner workings of the author can be found at the Frankfurt Book Fair every year. Very few have success with it.


In such stories, the author always circles around himself and has long since lost touch with the viewer or reader.

Tip 17: Nothing is as banal as reality. Find the big stories in the banality of everyday life. A big challenge.

11. The genre

With each genre, the viewer has a certain expectation. This expectation mainly relates to which emotional need he gets satisfied. Will he laugh? Will he cry Will he worry deeply? Will he be shocked or easily entertained?

Rule 11:

Every genre promises something.

Tip 18: The viewer wants to be surprised. But he wants to be sure that his emotional mood is based on the genre. Don't let him down.

12. The tonality

The question of style and tonality is also closely related to the genre. If we are on the subject of storytelling, then this is precisely the art of story “telling”. The sound makes the music.

Rule 12:

The tone makes the difference.

Tip 19: Practice, practice, practice.

Every story has to be this twelve dramaturgical elements take into account in order to be able to develop their maximum effect.

Tip 20: If you want to get a basic overview of dramaturgy, we recommend “Story” by Robert McKee.

Tip 21: If you want to train yourself in the field of dramaturgy and editing, the course in the “Master School Screenplay” by Rüdiger Hillmer is recommended.

3. Application of the storytelling method in business

In the economic context, the use of the storytelling method differs in many ways from the dramaturgical application. Business is about profit and sales. In order to achieve this, they want to be noticed and therefore need a concept in order to achieve their goals.

The storytelling method as a marketing tool must therefore be measured against the goals of a company. As a result, the core elements of the dramaturgy are often drastically reduced or compressed when applied to the economy.


The so-called “narrative approach” is often used. And just as often the basic principles are disregarded, since a description of the process is told instead of a story. What is sold by many as a story is not a story and therefore cannot develop the effect of the storytelling method.

Rule 13:

Only a story has the effect of a story.

Example: You only have a minimal amount of time to communicate, which means maximum costs. Because every second costs attention.

Tip 22: Reduce the elements of the dramaturgy that can be dispensed with. But in order to have the effect of the storytelling method, the essential elements must be retained.


In a storytelling seminar or storytelling workshop, Torsten Gauger adapts the storytelling method to the communication goals of your company in such a way that they are practicable and, above all, effective. Because some elements can also be told implicitly and therefore do not require any effort or narrative time. Other elements, however, must ALWAYS be included.


Long-term marketing measures can be destroyed with frivolous communication measures.

Tip 23: Make sure that the company's brand values ​​are protected. The story and its tonality must match the brand, the USPs and the core message.

It is an interplay of many, many parameters that influence the success and impact of storytelling in business.

When using the storytelling method in business, you have to concentrate on getting your messages across. How this is done in concrete terms, the lecturer uses a storytelling lecture for companies entitled "The Effect of Stories".

Gauger Film is happy to help with the implementation of the concrete stories that have been developed using the storytelling method. With our image films, advertising films and corporate films, we make sure that the maximum effect of the storytelling method comes into its own.

3.1 Differences in the storytelling method in film and for companies

In contrast to film or theater, in business the story is not primarily used for entertainment, but above all for the emotional transfer of knowledge, both in B2C and in B2B marketing. Storytelling is a central area of ​​content marketing and especially video content marketing.

The channels used are mostly the same, as Facebook, Youtube and Google are also used for corporate communication. There are also specific channels for each industry and the Xing or LinkedIn channels.

Audiovisual content is also becoming more and more important in internal company communication, as it can replace the high costs of lectures, meetings and travel.

But no matter whether audiovisual or in direct communication. Storytelling is superior to all other communication instruments in terms of attention, recognizability and reproducibility. The storytelling method should therefore belong to the tools of modern managers and be used as a soft skill.

Example: Steve Jobs proved in his gripping speech in 2005 before graduating from Stanford University that sometimes it only takes the right snippet of one's own life story to package a message. A message that would stay in the head of each and every student present forever.

Tip 24: Practice your ability to inspire others. Use the storytelling method to convey your vision.

We are happy to impart the know-how and practice it with you. Contact us.

3.2 Areas of application of the storytelling method in business

An image film, for example, aims to convey the company's CI. An advertising clip is supposed to connect a product with an attitude towards life. Or a company boss tries to explain a radical change in marketing strategy in a meeting. All of these scenarios are practically impossible to implement without a narrative approach and yet they all have different criteria that must be taken into account when using the storytelling method.

Tip 25: Journalistic methodologies are suitable for internal change processes in order to include answers to the guaranteed W-questions in the story.

But how do I find out which storytelling method is right for me? Which elements of a story does my content need in order to be noticed? Which channels do I want to use and what role does the choice of target platform play in the conception?

Tip 26: First of all, define what is actually to be communicated in essence. Because the dog is often buried here.

Example: Suppose a car manufacturer wants to present and market its new luxury class car. With the definition of the target group, the platform or the channels that you want to use are usually also defined. If, for example, the choice falls on a commercial on TV and the web, it is clear from the start that you have to accept restrictions on the narrative time. Given these prerequisites, one could now consider whether to only talk about the product and its vision, or the other way around. As a company, you always seem more sympathetic if you take a back seat and tell “about yourself” instead of telling “about yourself” in a film monologue from A-Z.

The automobile manufacturer Audi provides a narrative ingenious and accordingly well-known example.


Audi initially dispenses with a human protagonist and any human interaction in its commercial. And yet as a viewer you are emotionally involved with the T-Rex, which is also extremely complex and expensive. The product placement, i.e. autonomous driving with the Audi RS7, happens briefly and simply at the end of the clip. Audi positions itself as a problem solver who understands its customers. In this case, it offers the optimal solution to the problems of the short-armed dinosaur and, as a billion-dollar brand, cleverly takes a back seat. A simple story (which, by the way, is a tragic comedy) appeals to the viewer emotionally from the start.


Still, you didn't consider everything when choosing a depressed T-Rex. This is because this does not provide an all-too-suitable identification basis for the target group, i.e. the target customer. The story is humorous and imaginative, but does not emotionalize the recipient in the direction of a purchase decision. The better the viewer can identify with the protagonist, the greater their willingness to act. Especially when the focus is on solving a problem or remedying a defect, as large as possible of the target group must have this or a similar problem. Otherwise the advertised product or service has no relevance for the customer.

4. Summary of the remarks on the storytelling method

The solution lies in the balance of all the rules. The references to risks are intended to raise awareness that the storytelling method consists of extremely powerful rules that must be used consciously and in moderation in order to develop their maximum effect. The tips were used to address specific adjustments that help to develop a functioning story.

We are at your disposal for seminars, workshops and the production of your image films, advertising films and corporate films.