Executive Communication Expert Dianna Booher
People can argue with facts all day. But they can’t argue with your experience or your story. When you present your case as information, statistics, or data to be digested, people move into analysis mode. Lights go on; wheels whir in an attempt to “take the other tack” and prove you wrong. But when you offer an illustration or personal experience, they relax and listen for the idea.
Your stories might include humorous anecdotes, slices of everyday life, success stories, or even failure storiesólots of lessons come from those too.
Think “theme.” Shakespeare had his 26 plot lines. Business storytellers have their favorite key themes and initiatives from year to year and decade to decade:
The Customer Is Always Right.
Quality Is Our Number One Goal. People Are Our Most Valuable Asset.
With the theme in mind, identify an appropriate story to illustrate that point. What customer incident can you relate to your executive team to persuade them to act on your recommendations? What personal experience can you tell that helps your staff know what you value most in their performance?
Identify the punch line. It may be funny, dramatic, sad, shocking. That’s where you end the story. Everything needs to build up to that point. Say the punch word in that punch line last.
Set up the story in an intriguing way. Don’t wave a flag by saying,
Let me tell you a story that illustrates why I think blah, blah, blah. Instead, try something like,
Honesty can kill your business. Last week I made the mistake of being honest with one of our suppliers about X. Tuesday of this week,
And you’re off into the story. Whatever setup you use should make people say, “Tell me more.”
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