The Power of Story Telling

Writing a book is sometimes a long and arduous journey, however, worthwhile. My personal experience when writing a book has recently been with a professional sportsman who as a Player won global recognition playing under a Manager who is considered as being the best ever in his particular sport.

To be considered the best as I was told stories on numerous occasions, takes many qualities and one of those qualities that this particular Manager demonstrated was his ability to relate to all staff within the Club, evident by his behaviour of arriving at the Club every morning before everyone else and taking the time to sit down and chat over a cup of tea with Bella, the tea lady.

Who would have thought this act of sitting down with Bella as an integral and important part of leadership?

I have many experiences myself in business, and I recall one person telling me once that it is “what you do or don’t do, that allows others to do what they do or don’t do”

President Kennedy was once visiting NASA and asked one individual who clearly was a cleaner there what his job entailed. The response was “To put a man on the moon” I am sure if Bella was asked the same question in context, her response may have been something along the lines of “To be the best Club in the world”.

The Bella Story simply highlights some of the qualities in leadership and the ability of a leader to spend the time with his/her people at every level and irrespective of the type of business; to take the time to chat. Yet how many of you do so.

Story telling is the centerpiece of business activity. Customers must be convinced to buy your company’s products or services, employees and colleagues to go along with a new strategic plan or reorganization, investors to buy (or not to sell) your stock, and partners to sign the next deal. But despite the critical importance of persuasion, most executives struggle to communicate, let alone inspire. Too often, they get lost in the company speak: PowerPoint slides, dry memos, and hyperbolic missives from the corporate communications department. Even the most carefully researched and considered efforts are routinely greeted with cynicism, lassitude, or outright dismissal.

So here are a few story telling/persuasion tips:

  1. Get excited. Storytelling is a performance and you need energy and enthusiasm to tell a good story. Get passionate, even if it seems silly.
  2. Smile. You can hear a person smiling. When a person tells a story with a smile on their face, subtle intonations in voice change. If you are smiling, you will choose different words. Remember, storytelling is entertainment, too — it should be fun.
  3. Practice. Perhaps pick one story every morning that will be your story for the day. When someone calls or comes over, you will be ready with your story.
  1. Make it short. Stories can go on and on — keep yours short and punchy. A good story does not have to be long.
  2. Use lots of details. Pay attention during your day or while remembering an event from the past. Include details like the clothes people wore, how they moved, and what things felt like.
  3. Channel emotions. Don’t just stick to the facts; they are usually pretty boring. Tell the emotions you were feeling. Talk about why you felt that way and what memories it brought back. Emotions are always interesting subjects.
  4. Develop characters. Bella, the NASA cleaner — all can become characters in your story. Learn to notice and appreciate the wonderful quirks that everyone has. Describe these people, thinking about what they must have been thinking.
  5. Don’t think it isn’t interesting. Anything can be interesting if it is well told. Don’t worry that no great drama has happened to you lately. Storytelling is more about how you tell something than what you are telling.

Oh and the Club I refer to, did become the best in the World.

And Bella, who incidentally is a real character, always felt that she played an integral part in the Club success.

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