Master of Stories

‘Facts and figures are forgotten. Stories are retold.’ -Jeffrey Gitomer

Hi Persuader,

Unless you’re a really mathematically oriented person, you’re not going to remember the charts and graphs of a presentation, and neither is your audience. If you give presentations to groups of people, while sometimes you may need to get specific, the real core, the real power of your presentation is going to be ‘The Story’.

I used to believe I wasn’t a very good story teller. I didn’t have any shyness or esteem issues where my persuasion skills were concerned, but up until a few years ago, I didn’t really think my stories were actual stories. I didn’t understand that MY stories are the real juice, the lifeblood of my persuasion.

We all have a story. In a previous article, ‘What’s Your Story?‘ I described how stories work. But your story may not have presented itself to you. It might be a tangential story. The most important story you can tell in relation to your business may be your grandparents struggle. If you’re a financial advisor, it may have to do with your father’s financial ruin when you were very young. If you’re a realtor, you might have a story about someone who you sold a house to whose life was changed irrevocably for the better.

Your object in telling a story is first to get the listener to agree with you. Once that happens, persuasion is inevitable.

The most important aspect for your story is to have a point. We’ve all heard meandering speeches about someone’s surgery or the kind of day they had that never, ever get to the point. These are NOT the kind of stories we want to tell in business.

Our stories have to have a similarity to the situation to which we’re presenting, as well as the important aspects of ‘The Hero’s Journey’. (If you’re not familiar with ‘The Hero’s Journey‘ by Joseph Campbell, become familiar with it. It is the single most important work on archetypes and stories starting pulling from sources back to the dawn of time, and has had profound impact on my teachings and learnings, as well as the teachings and learnings of millions of others.)

With a story, you don’t have to start at the beginning. In fact, there’s usually a lot of wasted words at the beginning of a story. A writing teacher I once knew had a general rule that the first paragraph or two of a story was completely dispensable. By starting in the middle, or even practically in mid-sentence, the audience is compelled to listen intently. ‘What did I miss? What do I need to know for this to make sense? What’s going on here? I can’t wait to find out.’

Another way to do this is to start with ‘the point’ of the story and work your way back. Since the point, the outcome, or what you want to teach, is the absolute goal, it’s most important that this is crystal clear.

A member of my coaching club actually ‘reverse engineers’ his stories so that the very first thing he works out is the outcome. From there he works back through the journey that got him to the goal.

When working on your story, begin by beginning. Start by starting. Write, write, write. And when you’ve written it out, read it out loud. You’ll see exactly where it needs to be edited when you read it out loud.

For more on persuasive storytelling, call Kim. She’s probably got a good story for you.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Dave - November 26, 2007

Stories are so much more entertaining and memorable than data-laden speeches. Two weekends ago I was at a fund raiser for Children’s Hospital of Washington DC. At $250 per plate I was anticipating some excellent speakers. It turns out that all four speakers were doctors.

Everyone was well dressed in black tie attire – tuxedos abounded and cocktail dresses accentuated all in attendance. The dinner was excellent: melt-in-your-mouth steaks, well seasoned vegetables, and smooth-as-silk garlic potatoes; the wine was well matched with the dinner and excited the pallet; and the desserts were sumptuous creations in their own right with colorful strawberries and rice crispy bars for dipping in fondues of chocolate and caramel/vanilla sauces.

The first three speakers told all the numbers of how the hospital helped how many people. Their goals for the next couple of years. Fairly straight forward, but kind of boring. The audience was wilting with boredom.

The final speaker was acclaimed to be the best doctor and the clapping when the doctor took the stage was considerably louder than for the other doctors. This doctor took the stage and only told stories. The drama and emotional curves the speaker engaged with us were entrancing. There were no facts figures, descriptions, nor explanations. The audience gave the doctor a standing ovation. I was equally impressed. The stories are what made the speaker much more memorable. Whoever knew the speakers did a great job in placing the story teller at the end of the speakers.

Stories rock; facts and figures are not as powerful.

michael graham - November 28, 2007

the old salesman told me ” I allways had a story to help me sell” I flip houses in the poor areas of Detroit, Michigan. Most white guys fear for thier life in the geheto, not me , treat people with respect , be friendly , be fearless, carry a concealed weapon and you will get along fine. I try to have a story of hope “why make the land lord rich when you can make yourself rich and buy instead of rent.” Maybe I try too hard , I tell myself, sell without selling, I only close 2 out of 12 qualified buyers. Most would rather rent. An improved short story will make em buy. I’m a slow learner , using your hidden commands and such. In the next couple of years I will likely earn enough cash to actually take a seminar from you the persuasion god Kenrick . I look to you as my mentor,in the quest to become a master flipper . Warmly Mike


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