"Story telling isn't just for kids"

I have a new passion – story telling!  I have always used stories to “sell” our kids on an idea; now this new art of persuasion is taking root in businesses as well.  In his book “The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling:  Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative,” Stephen Denning outlines the keys to successful storytelling and how this aged-old skill is being used to influence change in corporate America and beyond.

1)    Know your purpose:
Ask yourself the questions:  “what am I really trying to change?”  and “what do I really want people to understand?” Once you know the answers to both questions, write it down.  This will become the focus for your story.

2)    Find an example of what success will look like:
Ideally this should be a situation that all parties can relate to and understand.

3)    Tell the truth:
Your credibility is important if your story is to be believable.  Painting too rosy or too gray a picture does not help in your efforts if the other party knows that you are embellishing beyond your limits.

4)    Identify the “who, what, and when”:
To “hook” your listeners quickly, identify your protagonist, the time and place.  Ideally, your listener should be able to connect with the main character, there should be some similarities that the listener can relate to personally.

5)    Be brief:
Specifics are not always necessary when telling stories in the corporate world.  Make your point in a way that engages your listener, but does not bore them with too many details.  Ignite their interest!

6)    Underscore reality:
Your story should identify the cost of failure.  Success needs to be viewed as the only option.

7)    End on a positive:
If your goal is to spark action, then your listener needs to feel a sense of empowerment and excitement about the options that lay ahead of them. 

8)    Encourage dreaming:
Help your audience envision success by engaging their imagination.  Ask them to “just think….” or to “…imagine…” what the future can hold.