Storytelling is a Basic Skill for Success

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“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”  — Robert McKee

Facts don’t engage and captivate people.

Stories do.

Storytelling is a basic skill for success.

If you master the art of storytelling, you can win friends, influence people, and improve your outlook on life.

Yeah, storytelling is that powerful.

In the book, What More Can I Say?, Dianna Booher shows us how to master storytelling to influence people and drive more meaningful change.

Stories Drive Points Deeper Into Our Psyche

Stories communicate in a deeper way beyond facts and figures.

Via What More Can I Say?:

“We share our stories with our friends, family, and strangers on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  We talk about vacations, holiday get-togethers, office projects, and travel mishaps.  We don’t dump statistics on our social media sites; our stories carry emotion.  They drive a point deeper and deeper into our psyche.”

Stories are a Natural Form of Communication

We are natural born storytellers.

Via What More Can I Say?:

“We tell ourselves stories about why we do what we do … about why we act the way we act … about what we said and why we said it … about how something should be done or not done.  The stories that on in our head prove positively that stories are a natural mode of communication.”

The Media Uses Stories to Influence Us All the Time

The media knows better than to just dump a bunch of facts on us.  The media connects with us through stories of real people.

Via What More Can I Say?:

“When tragedy strikes, the media doesn’t just report how many people died, the impact on the Richter scale or the economy, and the inches of snow, rain, or flooding.  Instead, reporters find the people stories.  They put a face on the tragedy by telling you of the single guy who jumped from the safety of his boat to save a drowning two-year old whose parents, unable to swim, stood on the swollen river’s shore, screaming for help.”

Even Judges and Seasoned Attorneys Prefer Stories

If you thought that judges and lawyers want just the facts, think again.

Via What More Can I Say?:

“Researchers have discovered that even judges and seasoned attorneys prefer story briefs to logo briefs (those built totally on logical argument).  An empirical study on the power of story determined that stories are persuasive to experienced lawyers and judges because they evoke emotional responses that make the legal claims of the parties more credible and elicit empathy in their judicial thinking.

Structure is to storytelling what framing is to a house.  Without it, you just have  a heap of supplies on a vacant lot.”

A Story Has a Hero, a Struggle, and a Goal

If there isn’t a struggle, there isn’t a story.   The heart of a story is the challenge and the change.

Via What More Can I Say?:

“Think back to your high-school or college English classes.  Your professor defined a story this way: ‘A hero struggles to overcome obstacles to reach an important goal.’ “

Tips to Build Your Personal or Business Stories

Booher shares a pragmatic and powerful set of tips to keep in mind as you start to build your personal or business stories.

Via What More Can I Say?”

  • Show, don’t’ tell.  That is , don’t’ tell your audience about the movie.  Put them in the movie theater, and let them see the movie.  Re-create the scenes.
  • Start with a hero.  Anything or anyone can be a hero in the story: your organization, a product, a location, your client, a passerby.
  • Don’t always try to be the hero or heroine in your own stories.
  • Give your hero a goal or challenge to overcome.
  • Add struggles.  The hero must overcome struggles or obstacles to master the challenge or meet the goal.
  • Use dialogue.  Let listeners hear the characters talk to one another.
  • End with the resolution that motivates your listeners to action.
  • Make sure your listeners can identity with the hero.
  • Be interactive in the telling.
  • Use analogies, metaphors, and props in the telling.
  • Be vulnerable.  Don’t always tell about your successes.  Audiences relate more often and learn more from ‘failure’ stories.
  • Add humor–self-effacing humor is best.
  • Create  callback line.  Is there a line from your story that you can refer to later to bring to mind again and again for  your listeners–a reference phrase that will continue to drive home your point?

Your ability to tell stories will help you leapfrog over those with just the facts.

Wrap the challenge and the change in a story that sticks.

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Image by Moazzam Brohi.

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