Many speakers and listeners know that stories captivate interest and stimulate action more effectively than facts and “data dumps” from word dominated slides. That’s a message of a story-filled book published last month by Peter Guber, former CEO at Sony Pictures and producer of several Oscar winning movies. Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story “masterfully demonstrates how telling purposeful stories is the best way to persuade, motivate, and convince others” of a message. Gruber’s stories from famous people demonstrate how and when stories can be effective. Written as a business book, the principles apply equally to therapists, pastors, coaches, sales people, career builders and even job-seekers. How then do we craft and use good stories?
- Be authentic. This builds trust; artificiality and phoniness are trust killers.
- Learn about your audience even before you tell your story. Show that you are interested in them.
- Determine the story’s purpose. What do you want to accomplish by telling your story?
- Ponder the building blocks of all compelling stories (including movies):
– Challenge. Get your listeners’ attention with an unexpected challenge or statement. This can be a situation that someone (perhaps even the story-teller) experienced.
– Struggle. Give listeners an emotional experience by describing, surprising or engaging them around the struggle to overcome the challenge and find an answer to the opening question. “Nothing grabs attention faster than the need to know what happens next.”
– Resolution. Galvanize a response by giving an eye-opening resolution that motivates and calls listeners to action.
- Stories fall flat if they fail to inspire or motivate listeners to change their thinking or to take action as a result of the story. The goal is to move people with the story.
- Include heroes, drama, and sometimes a “eureka moment” when your listener “experiences the same thrilling charge of emotion, purpose, and meaning that you felt when you experienced” some insight or epiphany.
- Purposeful stories contain information, ideas, and values that the teller slips inside to reach the listener’s heart and mind.
What have you learned about telling stories to bring change in others? Please comment.