Just Tell the Story!
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
2/3/2015 03:49:40 am
Great stories. Keep them coming. I have reviewed the comments and possibly the tweets and at face value of looking at these it may appear that these capsules are not providing value at least in the comments and tweeting parlance, however I have greatly appreciated them coming to my inbox and helping us remember many of the things we were taught in your sessions as well as new insights and ways of thinking of things. Thanks again and keep them coming.
Bobbi L Kamil
2/3/2015 01:35:16 pm
I love story telling and have honed my skills for years, using them in my presentations to make my points more memorable.
2/4/2015 06:00:56 am
I'd believe there is a third key element to a great story the first two have been mentioned a compeling plot and characters, the third is relationships; character to character, character to faith, character to situation etc. Pick just about any author and you can quickly identify which elements they excel at. I'm always looking to add books that succeed at all three. A number of recent and historicaly celebrated books have only two out of the three, and not always the same two. You can't get away with just one. Incidentally hollywood has incorrectly Identified special effects as a forth element of a story. It isn't and it certainly can't go it alone regardless of budget.
2/10/2015 01:54:29 am
2/24/2015 06:28:56 am
Great tip! As a writer, even of nonfiction, I've learned that the story is the most important thing, not the information. If the info isn't imbedded into an interesting story, forget about it because your readers will forget! Don't explain, tell the story.
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