Think for a moment about the power of stories in your own life. How often have you stayed up later than you mean to because you were so engrossed in a good book you just couldn’t put it down, or because you were watching a gripping programme on TV? Have you ever changed the way you do things after hearing the story of someone else’s success? Or perhaps you can still remember a speaker at a business conference who moved you with a story.
The ancient art of story telling can change the way we think, act and feel. Remember that people buy an idea emotionally first and then justify it logically. All too often we prepare detailed logical justifications for what we want from others and fail to engage them emotionally and so this is where a story can work really well. Stories can capture our imaginations and make things real in a way that cold, hard facts can never do. They can enlighten, inform and entertain because they touch our imagination and our emotions. It works with all cultures. Stories are very, very powerful tools for influencing.
So if you want to be a persuasive motivator and influencer, it is imperative to learn the art of a good story. In fact the best state for your group to be in when you are training is a state of curiosity, that is when we all learn most easily, and stories can create a light trance-like state of relaxation and intent listening.
If you pepper your sessions with stories it is a good way to guarantee a high level of curiosity which will result in your content being accepted more easily and effortlessly. It also aids retention and recall. A Stanford research study showed that statistics alone have a retention rate of 5-10% (not surprising!), but when coupled with anecdotes, the retention rate rises to 65-70%.
So how do we ensure we tell a good story? Here are some insights from Andrew Stanton, Pixar writer and director behind Toy Story and Wall-E. These are his golden rules for telling a great story:
1. Make me care – draw the sympathy of the audience
2. Take me with you – at the heart of a story is a promise or a problem
3. Be intentional – the central character must have inner motivations driving them towards their goal
4. Let me like you – the audience must relate to and appreciate the characters in your anecdote
5. Delight me – make them forget themselves, if only for an instant
You can view the full-sized infographic here. Do you have any tips on telling a great story? If so, please tell us about them by leaving a message below.