Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Story Behind Storytelling

I was intrigued by storytelling this past week.  The idea started when I had conversations with two people who could captivate you with their storytelling.   
The first was a colleague who seemed to be able to talk about family and background as a story with rich context but soft words.  Those soft words weaved stories about parents, horses, childhood experiences, and even children's teachers.  I was intrigued by the impact of those soft words.
The second was a semi-retired (her words) professor who talked about life experiences in a manner that seemed so distant from the Tweet/text message driven social communication that occurs today.  I could have listened for hours to stories about education and family.   She used very rich words and assembled those words into very captivating stories.
Both instances represented styles that seemed so different from the sound bite bursts that deluge us every day. 
As a follow-up to those conversations, I started to stumble upon blog posts and manifestos on the power of storytelling.  Here are to highlights:
I came upon a ChangeThis manifesto by author Jonah Sachs who started that manifesto by proposing, “…if you want to be heard, you’d better learn to tell better stories.”  In his manifesto, he provides ten storytelling strategies:
  1. Know What a Story is
  2. Figure Out What You Stand For
  3. Declare Your moral
  4. Now prove it
  5. Stop trying to Be the Hero
  6. Show the Broken World
  7. Make Sure there’s action
  8. Reveal the moral
  9. Break the mold
  10. Stay On ground level
You will want to spend a few minutes reviewing this manifesto to add this valuable insight to story telling.

Link to Leadership

So an obvious question on the Lead Quietly blog is  “What does story telling have to do with leadership?”  For this question the blog of Dan Schawbel provides insight.  How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool also directed me to the work of Paul Smith who wrote the book, Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.  Schawbel’s inteview with Paul Smith provided the following storytelling insights:
    1. Start with the context. 
    2. Use metaphors and analogies
    3. Appeal to emotion
    4. Keep it tangible and concrete
    5. Include a surprise
    6. Use a narrative style appropriate for business. 
    7. Move beyond telling your audience a story to creating a scene or event for them to participate in
I would recommend going to Schawbel's blog to gain additional insight to the list.

At the end of the week, the conversations and the reading had me thinking about my storytelling capabilities.  I hope you are inspired similarly.
Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.

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