Monday, January 2, 2012

How To Tell A Story The World Will Listen To

Have a good cause, issue or product, convert it to a simple, well told story and the world will listen.

Over Christmas I have been reading books on storytelling by former World Bank executive and Australian author, Stephen Denning.  Recently I blogged about Denning's thoughts on  corporate storytelling and change.  

So how do you construct an effective story that can stimulate people's willingness to change?

A springboard story is one designed to take listeners to a new level of understanding about a change. This type of story can be used to inform, educate or to shake the skeptics out of their complacency or hostility to your new idea. 

According to Denning an effective springboard narrative has seven  parts:

A strong idea
The change idea you communicate is clear and worthwhile aiming for.

The story is about on a real example of success
It can be from a program that tested a new idea, a successful case study from another part of your  organisation, or one from the same industry or a different but nevertheless relevant environment.

Single protagonist
Tell the story from the viewpoint of an individual the audience can relate to.

Date, time and place
Set the boundaries of your success example so people readily see your story’s authenticity.

You only need minimal detail because listeners need mental space to make the leap between what they are hearing  and their own situation.

Have a genuinely happy ending: one that illustrates success in terms of improved outcomes, team work, health, sales, production efficiency or other measures your audience relates to.

End with a visible link back to your central change idea.

Perhaps we should take a leaf from the history books and use stories, as well as the facts and figures of business logic, as we set out to encourage people to accept change.

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