The Power of Story

At a recent speech the presenter before me started out with a story, followed by another, and another. All linked to points. Brilliant, and so rare in business presentations today. He warmed up the audience, and I was grateful.

“Story” is the S of our SHARP principles. Story is also the primary tool in making your message stick, as in Chip and Dan Heath’s great book “Made To Stick.” And in the vernacular of Malcolm Gladwell – story makes ANY idea stick, and if you haven’t read his great book get “Blink.”

The Top Ten Reasons stories are useful and powerful:

  • They are real
  • They are short
  • They are interesting
  • They are human
  • They give third party credibility
  • They are easy to tell
  • They are memorable
  • They are emotionally connecting
  • They move people
  • They are the principle communication tool since Man began talking

What Others Say

To be a person is to have a story to tell.
-Isak Dinesen

The story is more important to me than the part.
-Catherine Deneuve

Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.
-Margaret Thatcher

A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth.
– Frank Luntz (Communication Specialist in language – also a political consultant)

Eighty percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think. I can change how you think, but how you feel is something deeper and stronger, and it’s something that’s inside you.
– Frank Luntz

From Todd Paulsen, here is some of the power of story, and the reason behind it (see the complete article here):

“THE USE OF STORIES IS A POWERFUL TOOL that aids in material retention, but methodologies of inclusion are rarely discussed. The desire to share emotions and effect the emotional states of others drives us to tell and retell stories. A story is a vector that spreads the information and emotion that is contained within it. No classroom or teacher is needed past the initial storytelling. We have been doing this for years in the form of childrens stories. It has been widely speculated that the story of Hantzel and Gretel (sic) is a cautionary tale used by elders to prevent children from wandering off into the dangers of the European forests alone.”

Jesus told stories and parables. He didn’t talk in concepts – he only needed stories, and he riveted peoples attention. Sowing seeds along the path, the rich young ruler, a house built on sand, faith growing like a mustard seed, and dozens more.

Remember, people buy on emotion and justify with fact.

A great resource for getting great at telling stories is Doug Stevenson’s Story Theatre – after our “Communicate To Influence” program this is one to take – it pays as a communicator to get serious about storytelling.

Create YOUR communication experience – stories will add mightily.