HBR: Storytelling That Moves People

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“The HBR asks why is persuasion so difficult and what can you do to set people on fire?

(click for pdf of article)

HBR’s Senior Editor goes in search of the answer to Robert McKee, the world’s best known and respected screenwriting Lecturer whose students have won 18 Academy Awards.

“Despite the critical importance of persuasion, most executives struggle to communicate, let alone inspire.”

However, “McKee believes that executives can engage listeners on a whole new level if they toss their PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead.”

McKee explains that “There are two ways to persuade people. The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most executives are trained in. It’s an intellectual process, and in the business world it usually consists of a PowerPoint slide presentation in which you say, “Here is our company’s biggest challenge, and here is what we need to do to prosper.” And you build your case by giving statistics and facts and quotes from authorities. But there are two problems with rhetoric. First, the people you’re talking to have their own set of authorities, statistics, and experiences. While you’re trying to persuade them, they are arguing with you in their heads. Second, if you do succeed in persuading them, you’ve done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone.”

The other way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener’s emotions and energy. Persuading with a story is hard. Any intelligent person can sit down and make lists. It takes rationality but little creativity to design an argument using conventional rhetoric. But it demands vivid insight and storytelling skill to present an idea that packs enough emotional power to be memorable. If you can harness imagination and the principles of a well-told story, then you get people rising to their feet amid thunderous applause instead of yawning and ignoring you.  [click for InsightDemand video how StorySelling helps a client’s more experienced Salespeople become more engaging and onboard new Salespeople quicker]

InsightDemand Free Resources:

  1. HBR: Storytelling That Moves People pdf (click)
  2. Create: Stories that sell
  3. Insight: A good vs. a bad story
  4. Game: Storytelling Dice
  5. Research: Stories vs. Facts


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