Storytelling is big business these days.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I heard Microsoft® had added storytelling software to its Office suite. What really caught my eye was its name: Sway.
Merriam Webster defines sway as “a controlling force or influence,” which is apropos for storytelling software, don’t you think? Apropos because stories evoke emotion and influence people’s behavior in ways that facts and figures — or product features — cannot.
Stories activate more than just the language processing areas of the brain — they light up parts of the brain you’d use were you experiencing the event yourself.
As Jonathan Gottschall wrote in his Fast Company article about why great stories spread, recent research has shown storytelling to be so powerful that it can change people's behavior, presumably by promoting the production of oxytocin, the empathy or love hormone.
A well-told story, then, creates an empathic connection between you (or your protagonist) and your listener. It’s this power — and the attention recent research has drawn to it — that’s made storytelling de rigeur of late.
Just as brands use storytelling to differentiate themselves in an attention-starved marketplace — the skilled creation, placement, and delivery of a compelling story can do the same for you. Storytelling can make you and your ideas more memorable and influential.
“But,” you say, “I’m no good at telling stories!”
Nonsense. You were made for it…literally.
Narrative is as old as the human race. And there’s something all narrative shares in common – whether an epic poem, limerick, or work of formula fiction.
All narrative follows a formula or framework.
All stories tend to follow the same basic structure: Problem and resolution. In some cases, the resolution is less a happy ending than a cautionary lesson.
Problem. Resolution. Easy enough, right? Now, go forth and tell stories. No, not yet? OK, let’s go a bit deeper.
At Mandel, we use frameworks. Even our SCIPAB® framework reflects a classic storytelling structure. But, in our storytelling training, we use the Mandel Storyboard®.
Here’s how the Mandel Storyboard® works.
Story Link: Begin by linking to something your listener has said or believes.
Main Character: Describe the person your story is about, using details that help your listener identify with him or her.
Setting: Provide context your listener may need to appreciate the story. Keep it brief.
Inciting Incident: This is where you introduce the problem. What happened to put your main character in jeopardy?
Events: Earlier events are problems your main character experienced as a result of the inciting incident and prior to the resolution. Later events may be actions your main character took toward resolving the problem or continued consequential problems.
Resolution: Describe the benefits your main character is now enjoying or the final condition of your main character as a result of the inciting incident.
Main Point: Explicitly state the point you're trying to make or lesson you’re trying to teach your listener.
What you see above is the archetypal problem-resolution narrative structure. Mandel has simply broken it down into its component parts, to make it less intimidating (and faster) for you to use to create and tell your own stories.
Sharing a meaningful story or anecdote can be nerve-wracking, especially in a business setting. Every time you do it, you’re putting your ideas and your credibility on the line. But you don’t have to fear it.
Storytelling comes naturally, if not intuitively, to people.
With just a little help, I’m confident you’ll be able to effortlessly use stories to engage in more meaningful and influential ways with colleagues and customers. In the process, you’ll have promoted more empathy in this world. And, couldn’t the world use more of that?
Imagine what a well-trained workforce of master storytellers could do for your business? Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
What does the hit on Netflix called The Queen’s Gambit tell us about how to sell in a virtual setting? Actually, something very important.
Before we break down how this show teaches us the key to virtual selling let’s look at the backstory.
What inspires and motivates people to action? Here’s a hint: it’s not a PowerPoint deck filled with data points and analytics. Learning how to share a powerful story can positively influence others and help your ideas become memorable. Perhaps you need to promote a new idea or close that crucial sale. Learn how some of the most successful business ventures today got their start from sharing a powerful story and how you can make your own narrative work for you.
Memory almost full. Imagine that warning flashing brightly on the forehead of every audience member. A successful presentation isn’t just about the speaker’s dynamic energy or their confident manner in front of an audience. Without compelling, easy to follow content, it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are in the spotlight. You and your topic will quickly be forgotten. So how do you ensure lasting, memorable impact? Learn how to be remembered by leveraging the ancient, globally relevant, and scientifically proven rule of three to focus your content, motivate your listeners, and make your executive presence shine.
Strong and engaging public speakers are powerful people who make change happen. Through their words and presence, they can influence people’s thoughts, decisions, and actions for the better. That’s why this week, I thought I’d share 5 of my favorite TED Talks to help you improve your speaking skills. I guarantee you’ll be entertained watching them. But more than that, I hope you’ll feel empowered to become the speaker or change agent you were meant to be.
Communicating complexity is challenging. For technical teams, presenting data-driven topics engagingly and concisely may be as easy as herding cats. That's because (1) the more specialized your knowledge is, the harder it becomes to present to people not “in the know" and (2) your audience is overwhelmed and overburdened by data already. So how can you simply communicate complex ideas? Try these two proven tactics.
Are your presentations memorable? You may be shocked by how little your audience retains over time. Everyone is overwhelmed by information all day long. Emails, messages, texts, phone calls, meetings, to do lists—and it all competes for space in our brains. So how can you make your presentations stick? How do you make your message memorable? Here are 3 simple tips.
A well-crafted story gives power to your ideas and recommendations like nothing else can. If there's one type of story every salesperson should have in their toolbox, it's the "What if" story. Read the blog to learn what a what if story is, how to tell one, and why it's so effective at connecting with customers and getting them to a decision faster.
I sat captivated, along with the rest of the audience, as General Colin Powell told a story about President Ronald Reagan and the squirrels that live around the Oval Office patio. It culminated in a potent lesson about influencing executive decision makers. It grabbed and held attention with just the right dollops of humor sprinkled throughout. It was told artfully and efficiently, in less than two minutes. Not a word wasted. I was watching a masterful storyteller at work and it was an afternoon I'll never forget. Here are the 3 storytelling lessons I learned from General Powell.
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve got a brilliant idea, one you know could deliver huge value. All the data supports it. But when you present it to others...they're just not that interested. Why? It could be that your presentation spoke only to their brains and not to their hearts. Learn how storytelling can help your audience emotionally connect with you and your ideas, making your presentation more memorable and influential.
I had the pleasure of having Thanksgiving dinner with Steve Faber, the writer of two highly regarded films, Wedding Crashers and We’re the Millers, along with a number of other popular screen and literary works. Over turkey and stuffing, we talked about the SECRET to GREAT storytelling. Today, I'm sharing it with you.
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