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