Key Point: Do you know that in some cultures, “story” is a verb? A woman who grew up in Papua New Guinea as a child of missionaries, was my seatmate at a luncheon the other day. We marveled at the stories being told by several of the speakers. I told her that at the company I’m at we are putting more emphasis on purposefully developing storytelling capabilities within leaders. She paused to think about that and the commented with some amusement… “Do you know that in Papua New Guinea, amongst all the culture, STORY is a verb. When people get together they actually plan to ‘story.’ They make social dates to ‘story.’ It is the most powerful way to communicate and learn about each other.” So how often and well do you story? If you want to be a leader in our white water world, becoming a great storyteller is a valuable asset. Want some insights and tips? Read on.
Tom Peters, a hall of fame management guru shouts out, “Story is more powerful than the brand, the best story wins. I am — simply, unabashedly, out loud, screaming, and shouting — saying, focus on the quality of your storytelling. Turn that complex idea into storytelling. And if you don’t believe me, talk to an effective trial lawyer…”
Here is the business card of Simon Kelly, the Chief Operating Officer at Story Worldwide. It is a metaphor to remind us that effective communicating is really about telling a great story. People love stories. When we share our lives with one another, it’s through stories. Compelling stories persuade and even have the power to change deeply held beliefs. To really engage your audience, we need to deliver stories that people want to read, watch or hear; stories they want to be a part of and enjoy so much, that they will be inspired to share them again.
- Recognize and Accept Becoming a Great Storyteller is Important. Personal stakes are essential for effective storytelling. What do you stand to gain or lose? Why is what happens in the story important to you and your audience?
- Observe Presenters Telling Stories. The best presenters regularly use stories in their presentations and content. There are many reasons to use stories including providing humor, making points memorable, identifying with the particular audience, inspiring people to act, building a shared vision, and relieving tension. Check out The Moth. This great site won a Peabody and you can rapidly increase your insights by watching and listening to well vetted and celebrated storytelling. Look for the following criteria; it is told well, the presenter is sincere, it fits the occasion, and the audience can relate to the story.
- Constantly Collect Stories. Keep a notebook (electronic or otherwise) to keep track of your ideas and stories you like. When you know a good story, sooner or later you will find a way to include it into a presentation. Ronald Reagan was called “the great communicator.” And whether you liked his politics or not, almost all pundits believe he was a story collecting and telling genius.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! Becoming a superb storyteller takes practice. Get a coach to help you. Do NOT rely on PowerPoint to be your “blah, blah, blah” crutch. Use it is an aid if you must but NOT as the medium for the message. Remember that YOU are the medium. When you’re ready, audition a story on Moth. What a great place to learn and develop your story skills!
STORY in The Triangle,