Where the Business of Persuasion Meets the Art of Storytelling
I have dedicated my life to practicing, learning, and passing on the craft of strategic storytelling to those who wish to employ it as a tool to affect and persuade others. I think of myself as an artist first, exploring words like musical notes and never being let down by how they come together to elicit a certain emotion or provoke thought in the audience. The creative process is not linear, like other forms of art. I therefore found it to be a more difficult challenge when dealing with an audience of left-brained, data-driven professionals. How can I transform an artistic creation into the recipe my engineers are clamoring for? How can I assist scientists in turning a narrative into a methodical procedure that elicits an emotional response? What’s more, how can I assist data-driven individuals in getting over the notion that simply stating the facts is sufficient? I’m going to try to explain what has taken me years to understand today. This is the best explanation I have right now.
Recognize the Value of Story from Data to Meaning.
Most of you who are reading this are probably in a situation where you have knowledge that someone else needs. Your main objective should probably be to inform that audience. Give them the knowledge you possess. Unless we aren’t clear on our content, which will be the subject of another essay, this is the easiest part for the majority of us. Let’s assume for the time being that you are aware of the task at hand. Many speakers will provide the information and then adjudge the job finished. Yet your work is not finished. Just because you provided them the information doesn’t necessarily mean they comprehend it.
Working with scientists, engineers, IT professionals, financial planners, and other data-focused businesses has shown me one consistent pattern: these professionals frequently use a language other than that of their target audience. using words that nobody in the audience is familiar with. Don’t presume that everyone in your audience understands what you are saying until they all share your behavior. It’s best to presume that they don’t, in fact. Strategic storytelling can be useful in this situation.
You can present the information in a way that others can understand by using a story. Story provides meaning to data.
For instance, one of the computer specialists I had worked with was upset because his clients never quite understood what he could accomplish for them. So we came up with a tale that they could readily comprehend. I questioned him about the kinds of issues that he generally helped people with and whether there were any other issues that he could compare this one to in the outside world. Could he identify a comparable issue that was simple for everyone to comprehend? He stated: “Yeah. It’s like a bakery with a refrigerator, and all the staff members are stocking the fridge with products without considering what else is already there. Before they are even used, things are pushed to the back and spoilt. They are making a loss. Additionally, nobody is focusing on the refrigerator. They are experiencing that in their computers. And I save them time and money by helping them clean out the refrigerator.”
This served as the ideal example. In his audience, very much everyone can comprehend the idea of a bakery having a refrigerator and needing to buy supplies. They can easily enter and comprehend the plot. However, story also has another function.
From Instruction to Convincing
The mere fact that your audience now comprehends your data does not guarantee that they will be inspired to take action.
We presenters believe that simply informing participants what to do will suffice. It isn’t. Understanding the facts is not the same as accepting them or the person presenting them. Making someone desire to do something is different from telling them what to do. Not only are we supposed to inform, but also to persuade. Data cannot convince. However, tale does.
Most of us aren’t employed merely to give lectures. To compel the audience to take action, we were hired. Due to this, we are now salespeople instead of merely teachers. The fundamental principle of sales is that before someone will buy into what you’re saying, they must like, trust, believe, and feel like they know you. First they purchase YOU. As a result, you cannot just be an opinion leader. You need to establish your credibility. Trust. Like. Believe. I sense that we are knowledgeable. These are all expressions of emotion, or how we FEEL about YOU specifically.
Most presenters completely skip over this crucial section and jump right to the statistics. This is incorrect. Give us an opportunity to get to know you, to learn what this work means to you personally, and to see who you are so that you may become more relatable and we will feel comfortable listening to you and opening our arms. Once more, narrative does this superbly.
A financial advisor I was dealing with was struggling to establish rapport with his clients. I understood why. He was coming out as being too cunning. He was sending off a negative feeling. I didn’t trust him, so I couldn’t imagine giving him my money. Even yet, I didn’t feel like I knew him. So I started probing him about the reasons behind his profession and how it impacts him emotionally. He claimed that despite his father’s lifetime of labor, poor decisions caused him to lose everything. He claimed that watching his father suffer through it shattered his heart, and he vowed not to repeat the error. So he started learning how to safeguard the funds he needs to provide his two children a better future. He is determined to give his twins, who both aspire to become doctors, the life they deserve. He has therefore devoted the majority of his life to researching ways to safeguard his investments and secure the future of his offspring. He now enjoys assisting others in doing the same. When he demonstrates to someone how just a few simple steps will grant them greater freedom and options, it excite him so much. He crooked smiled and added, “I guess you could say I’m doing this for my dad.
Even just hearing him admit something about himself altered my perception of him significantly. He changed from being slick and untrustworthy to loving his children and genuinely wanting to serve others. Now that the door is open, I can uncross my arms and pay attention to what he has to say.
People won’t be persuaded by your statistics until you first build the trust necessary for them to lower their arms and lean in. Without having to tell people who you are, story allows you to demonstrate your identity. Why? because a story’s worth is passed to the one who tells it.
From to Experiencing to Hearing
The majority of us are aware that personal, difficult lessons are the ones from which we learn the most. We gain the most knowledge through our genuine experiences. My kid can hear historical information, but he genuinely learns when he is escorted to the actual battleground and is told the accounts of the people who perished there. I could read a book and learn how to drive, but driving is where the true learning takes place. We must find a way to get individuals behind the wheel as presenters. By telling a story, you may catch your audience’s attention and get them to engage with the material instead of just hearing it and processing it in one section of the brain.
Story compels the audience to look for a comparable experience in their own lives. When told correctly, a story may make the emotions of your audience reflect those of the characters. Actually, it’s very astonishing how storytelling enables you to subtly instill concepts in readers’ heads. If you don’t believe me, though, you may look at some of the studies conducted at Princeton, Harvard, and Psychology Review, to mention a few. This has scientific support.
Story enables you to take your audience from hearing your truth to truly experiencing it. It enables you to put your listener in control of the vehicle while they remain seated at the wheel.
The Composition of a Story
Hopefully, you can now see the importance of story and why it can’t be disregarded. However, not all tales are made equal. If the plot is poorly organized, the story is meaningless and may even work against you.
There are several approaches to develop a story that works. Here’s my own:
The best story is defeated by the right story. Stop questioning whether a tale is compelling enough. Concern yourself with whether it satisfies your needs. What are you hoping the story will cause the audience to consider, act upon, or feel? Find the correct narrative, then improve it.
Pick out stories that have personal meaning for you. Stories from personal experience have a considerably more lasting power than those taken from a book. It’s possible that someone has advised you not to talk about yourself or make yourself the protagonist of your tale. This is not completely accurate. If the lesson was one you had to learn the hard way, it’s acceptable to describe yourself as the protagonist of the tale. Your personal experience and the lesson it taught you. But we don’t want a book report about how wonderful you are and everything you did well. Be a hero who teaches a lesson rather than one who rescues the day.
Recognize the goal. Make sure you can articulate the lesson(s) and teaching points from the story before you start to write it. Crafting it is made lot simpler by knowing that up front.
Build a sturdy foundation. A fact sheet is not a narrative. A tale is about an event that occurs, with a clear before and after, in which the main character undergoes a change. The following elements are present in business stories that are most successful: Character + Conflict + Conflict-Related Emotion + Resolution + Resolution-Related Emotion + Victory Moment (Life as a Result) + Emotion + Lessons + Objection Moment (“I know what you’re thinking” Moment”) + Action Step for Listener
Write and speak like you would. The secret to telling a good story is to create it as a tale to be told, not as one to be read. Effective stories are not overly polished or performed; rather, they are real and conversational. I’ll believe you more if I had more evidence that you are who you say you are.
Employ plain language. Your audience member is paying attention, thinking, feeling, drawing conclusions, and following the storyline. As you speak, a lot of things are happening. Speed up. Be confident in pausing. Additionally, utilize quick-to-process language that is straightforward so people can follow along quickly. Use imaginative language rather than overused, meaningless phrases, and cut out unnecessary details to go the shortest distance possible.
less than five minutes. Make an effort to write tales that are all under five minutes long. You’ll be forced to determine what to say that is actually significant.
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