We humans have told stories to one another since the dawn of language and civilization. Now business gurus are calling storytelling the most powerful strategic tool for anyone who wants to influence and persuade. We agree!
But what draws people to a particular story? Keith Quesenberry, a lecturer at the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins, dissected two years’ worth of Super Bowl commercials using Freytag’s Pyramid, named after a German novelist who saw common patterns in the plots of novels: Act 1, scene setting; Act 2, rising action; Act 3, turning point; Act 4, falling action; Act 5, resolution/release.
Quesenberry’s team coded Superbowl commercials for their number of acts and predicted the Budweiser commercial “Puppy Love” would win the ratings. It was the viewers’ top pick in a USA Today poll, and the beer’s sales rose.
When stories don’t work, Linderman says, it’s because we judge, analyze and explain an experience, rather than tell it. In our Persuasion and Influence course we consistently emphasize that a great story includes characters – with their voices -- and a compelling plot.
We want to hear. What has been your experience with stories – both as a teller and a listener? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Credit: Het Nieuwe Instituut
The art of storytelling in business has been getting quite the buzz lately. For decades we have introduced this skill in our Persuasion and Influence course. But as storytelling consultant Shawn Callahan, who works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, and Microsoft, says, “We see lots of people talking about stories but very few telling them.”
Callahan says understanding the simple framework of a story will help.
How do you know if you’ve got a viable story?
*A story begins with a time or place marker (when/where did it happen?).
*It recounts an event, with feeling.
*It includes dialogue (“And then he said…”).
*It has a business point (the reason for telling the story is…).
People pay attention when you tell a story – and stories are remembered. So mining your experience for stories is time well spent. We want to hear! Have you told or heard a good story recently? What was its impact? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Image Credit: AZ https://www.flickr.com/photos/azrasta/
We recently wrote about Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s research on “power poses” and how striking an expansive pose before a high stakes interview or presentation can boost confidence. (Stand with your limbs stretched out from your body, hold your head high, and it’s hard to feel insecure!) Now we’d like to take this concept a step further.
In a recent talk on body/mind alignment and its importance in conveying our messages, Stanford professor and social psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld cited research showing that in group settings (like meetings), those with high status assume more expansive body postures than those with lower status.
On a subliminal level, people decide in microseconds who is—and isn’t—worth paying attention to. If you want your words to resonate, align them with your body posture. A few subtle changes can make all the difference. Moving your elbows away from your body or draping an arm across a chair can increase your perceived status, while contracting your limbs, bowing you head, or turning one foot inward can lower it. When verbal and non-verbal messages align, our impact is greater.
Share your experience: Have you equated higher status with expansive body postures when you observe work colleagues? What happens when you try altering your own non-verbal body posture? Join the conversation and click "comments" below.
Is stress always harmful? A long-term study of 30,000 individuals published in Health Psychology in 2012 revealed that people who reported experiencing high stress were 43% more likely to die prematurely, but this was only true if they believed stress adversely affected their health.
For decades, in our public speaking courses we have been teaching that stress is the motor of performance. So rather than dreading the stress of speech anxiety, we learn to embrace it as ‘the juice’ that energizes us. This new research suggests that this is also likely to be true in interpersonal communication—where avoiding conflict is often done to avoid stress!
Begin to think positively when you feel your stress rising as an important communication event approaches. Think: "This is the feeling I need in order to perform at my maximum. I am ready…" This reframing may save your life.
Please share your thoughts with us! What happened when you began to appreciate those sweaty palms and that rapid breathing that signals stress? Share your responses to the weekly discussion question on our forum: Community of Practice Forum