13 Jun All I learned about story telling, I learned teaching kindergarten.
As a lawyer, business executive and sales coach, I’ve been taught to communicate in a manner that is logical, clear, rational, objective and arguably, effective. But over the years, I’ve observed that “rational” and “logical” are rarely enough to get a point across. And they are definitely not enough if I’m trying to influence, inspire, lead or engage an audience. Why? Perhaps because few of us are Vulcans. Humans are hardwired for story telling. A story with some emotion. A story with some grit. A story with some feeling. A story that sells!
I became well-practiced at telling stories during my years teaching kindergarten where we used anecdotes and metaphors liberally and made things simple. In hindsight, those years in the classroom were better preparation for honing my communication skills than most of what I learned during my post-graduate education.
So why are stories so important, especially when it comes to sales? The Anthony Hopkins character, a lawyer, in the movie Amistad sums it up best — “When I was an attorney, a long time ago, young man, I realized after much trial and error in the courtroom, whoever tells the best story wins.” Hmmm…with just a few edits, the rewrite goes like this — “When I was in sales, a not-so-long time ago, young man, I realized after much trial and error, whoever tells the best story wins (the sale).”
Not convinced yet? Read on for a few of my favorite insights about the power of story:
- Storytelling consultant Annette Simmons defines story as a “re-imagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listeners’ imagination to experience it as real. Story is a very powerful tool. When you activate new stories you transport people to new points of view, change meaning, behavior, and in that way – you change the future.” Whoa, how cool would it be to change the course of your client’s future simply with a story?
- Filmmaker Peter Guber (Batman) says, “Stories…are state-of-the-heart technology-the connect us to others. They provide emotional transportation, moving people to take action on your cause because they can very quickly come to psychologically identify with the characters in a narrative or share an experience – courtesy of the images evoked in the telling.” Peter goes on to say the heart is always the very first target. Emotional transportation to the heart-now that really sounds businesslike. (Not!)
- Author Michael Margolis considers stories his business. “I approach storytelling as a management philosophy – a lens through which to examine business challenges and discover breakthrough insights. If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories. If you want to change the culture, change the stories.” How many failed change initiatives or sales slumps or ?? have you led or been through? Change your story, change your future!