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Storytelling: The art of selling your idea


Pratik Bhatnagar

on 3 October 2012

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Transcript of Storytelling: The art of selling your idea

Though we continue to be powerful storytellers in informal settings... the storyteller Or this? "Our company's mission is to proactively utilise ethical infrastructures to reach new levels of customer service." Or this? Ever wonder why you remember your grandmother's stories even after many years, yet forget those bullet points you saw in a presentation from yesterday? ...people
center... Each great story has a narrative arc... At its core, every great story has Let me tell you a story about a commuter flight from Newfoundland to Alberta... And a story about devastated fisheries... Every Story follows a "narrative arc"... Every Story needs a protagonist... Every Story needs an antagonist... And in the end she is transformed ...the protagonist struggles to overcome challenges So, the "narrative arc" for Cinderella looks like this... Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, is a great corporate storyteller: Every story he told, including his own, followed a classic "narrative arc". Did you know he blew up one of his plants once? J&J began collecting stories across its complex, decentralized organization
to connect with far-flung customers but also with its scattered businesses. " You can't change an organization through memos" Lou Gerstner
former CEO of IBM: Stories have been a powerful medium for transmitting culture, values and beliefs, often by word of mouth throughout human civilization... Stories trigger powerful emotional responses, create pictures and paint patterns enabling the brain to remember and recall years after they have been told... The human brain's left hemisphere interprets what the right hemisphere perceives: something unique to humans... THE INTERPRETER
THE PERCEPTOR! ...we are hard-wired to tell and remember stories... Often, however, especially in the professional world, there is a disconnect between real, authentic, story-laden conversations of everyday life and the jargon-laden, articifial voice of business... How many have you heard something like this before?? "It is our mission to interactively maintain effective meta-services that provide key differentiators between us and our competitors." "Our goal is to assertively and enthusiastically restore economically sound paradigms to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace." the rational being In more professional settings we sometimes suspend this ability. Also, as kids we are encouraged to tell stories, but as adults and professionals we are often socialized to discount these in favor of "facts". We are told: "Stories = Unscientific" Which paints a better picture for you? Microsoft's mission statement

30 years ago:
"To put a computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software." Or this? 2012:
"To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential." A visual metaphor also gets the point across quickly Where a complicated graph or text might not To sell your idea effectively you have to connect with people whose backgrounds, perspectives & training are very different from yours... And while logic and facts and rational thinking, though not jargon and obscurantism, are all necessary.... ...you have to find the right balance between fact and storytelling if you are really interested in selling your idea. People process and connect to stories in a way facts can't... ...can deliver complex messages and information

...can help disseminate explicit and tacit knowledge

...can help affirm and share values

...can help build trust and committment

...can facilitate "unlearning" Harvard Business School's MBA program like many others around the world are taught through stories...better known as "case studies"! Stories .A final point: stories are about real people--those behind facts. In selling an idea, facts and data get you only some distance, the rest has to be bridged through stories-you tell about yourself and learn about others Did you know Microsoft has a Senior Director for Storytelling?

That major Indian Retailer, The Future Group has a Chief Belief Officer? Devdutt Patnaik, Futures Group Steve Clayton, Microsoft Corp. Think of a situation in which you are trying to persuade, influence and are or have been unsucessful.

Think of what means you are using to influence: memo, email, call, face-to-face meetings. Why haven't they been effective? Are you truly connecting with the person/persons you are trying to influence?

Think of how you can be more persuasive. What would you do differently, based on what you just heard today, from what you have tried so far.

How Would you:
..use a different communication medium?
...help visualize the situation and desired outcome?
...recount stories using the narrative arc approach?
...craft anecdotes?
...Use Metaphors?
...try other approaches?

Work as a group for 45 minutes, then come back and present the "before and after", i.e., present what your old approach has been, discuss what you think is not working, and then try the new approach based on storytelling techniques. Your exercise... obscurity trap
anonymity trap
hardsell trap
tedium trap Traps from: Why Business People speak like Idiots, Brian Fugere http://vizualize.me/pratikbhatnagar http://twitter.com/pratikbhatnagar These days you can even visualize your own story in the form of an infographic! By the 1980s, the Grand Banks had been overfished by commercial fisheries from Canada and Europe eventually depleted of its valuable cod, leaving the entire fishing communities of New Foundland in a dismal economic state... But the booming Oil & Gas Industry since the 2000s in Western Canada, has provided an economic outlet to former fishermen from the Canadian East--as labor in mines and drilling installations in Alberta. But this comes at a price. The workers commute frequently between their homes and the fields out West. The physical and emotional toll on separated families include high rates of alcoholism, substance abuse and violence in the former fishing communities in the East... In this simple story are embedded concepts ranging from the management of the seas, to marine conservation, to environmental migration, to economic booms and busts, to social transformation, to public health and safety...One story has a power to tie together many concepts at once, without the listener even being aware of it. That is the power of storytelling...
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