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How Real Estate Agents Can Improve Their Storytelling Skills

Posted by Brian Lim

Jul 23, 2019 4:02:00 AM

Storytelling is unique to and a powerful tool for human beings. Everyone’s told a story. In fact, you’ve probably told a story today. Whether you’ve told a coworker about your weekend, explained a problem you’ve solved, or shared your opinion about an article you’ve read in the newspaper, storytelling is part of your everyday life. In real estate, agents can elicit emotions by telling stories about themselves, their listings, and more – so why not master your storytelling skills?

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In this article I will show you the structure of a compelling story and how real estate agents should tell stories to urge listeners to action.

1. How Real Estate Agents Tell Conventional Stories

Most of the stories that we hear, read, or watch follow Freytag’s Pyramid of storytelling. We’re taught in elementary school that the elements in this structure consist of the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement. Well-known novels like The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, and The Odyssey follow this structure as well as movies like Avatar, Avengers: Endgame, and every Star Wars. Let’s review the events that occur at each stage of the Freytag’s Pyramid:

  1. The Exposition – The characters are introduced, the world they live in is set, and the goal the protagonist will accomplish is set
  2. The Rising Action –The protagonist encounters obstacles and overcomes them to reach their goal
  3. The Climax – The protagonist faces the most challenging obstacle and accomplishes their goal
  4. The Falling Action – The protagonist benefits from accomplishing their goal and loose ends are tied up
  5. The Denouement - Wraps up the story and all questions about the story are answered

2. How Real Estate Agents Tell Compelling Stories that Drive Action

The Freytag Pyramid lays out the perfect outline for storytelling but it’s missing a call to action element. When a real estate agent tells a story to persuade a listener to action, they should follow the 5 stages of the following structure:

  1. State the Problem – Describe a problem
  2. Agitate the Problem – Explain how the problem can become worse if it’s not solved
  3. Offer a New Approach or Solution – Show how the problem can be resolved with your solution
  4. Show how the solution fixes the problem – Describe the life with the solution
  5. Provide a Call to Action – Tell people to perform a desired action

The main difference between this structure of storytelling and Freytag’s is the 5th point – Provide a Call to Action. We can see this type of effective storytelling on television in commercials for products such as NyQuil:


Let’s break this NyQuil commercial down into the 5 stages:

  1. State the Problem – The father is sick
  2. Agitate the Problem – Due to his sickness, he is forced to tell his toddler he needs a day off
  3. Offer a New Approach or Solution – Take NyQuil, “The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep with a cold, medicine”
  4. Show how the solution fixes the problem – The father sleeps peacefully after taking NyQuil
  5. Provide a Call to Action – Take NyQuil

Easy enough, right? Now, let’s apply this structure to scenario in real estate. For this example, let’s say you’re talking to a potential FSBO lead who is having trouble selling their home. To persuade them to schedule an appointment for a consultation or hire you as their agent, you tell them a story:

  1. State the Problem – A homeowner wants to save money while selling their home, so they don’t hire an agent. Now, their listing has been on the market for several months
  2. Agitate the Problem – They’ve purchased their new home already, but the deal hasn’t gone through yet due a contingency in the new buyer contract. The contingency allows the seller lead to sell their current home before finalizing the deal to close the new home. Unfortunately, this contingency expires in 10 days and they haven’t had a series buyer inquiry yet. If the contingency isn’t met, the deal falls apart
  3. Offer a New Approach or Solution – Describe the benefits of leveraging the expertise, skills, and knowledge of a real estate agent. Explain how an agent can get more money for the home, find series buyers, and decrease stress during the transition
  4. Show how the solution fixes the problem – Explain how an acquaintance had a similar problem and followed your guidance to solve their problem
  5. Provide a Call to Action – Recommend that they hire you

As you can see, there are similarities between the 2 structures. Both introduce the setting, make the problem worse, and resolves the problem. However, while Freytag's structure is perfect for telling a story like a novel, the new structure is perfect for telling a story that urges action. That’s why commercials, advertisements, and other marketing tactics use stories to persuade you to buy their product. Now that you know how to tell compelling stories, how will you practice it today?


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