Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. For thousands of years, people have wanted to hear stories, whether from travelling bards in the old days or best-selling paperbacks today. Put simply, a good story helps people interpret the facts and see the bigger picture. Things people would not believe, understand or care about become compelling and meaningful as soon as they are seen through the lens of a simulated personal experience: a story. This makes good storytelling a very powerful tool indeed. Quite simply, a good story is one that simplifies the world and makes us feel we understand it better.
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Storytelling is the oldest tool of influence in human history. It has the power to cut-through and be listened to. It connects with us at a deeper level and thus avoids critical analysis. Its subtlety allows a message to enter where rational logic would be rejected. Stories linger around so their power of influence stays on long-after rational facts are forgotten. Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village.
Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her, she was huddled in a corner shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home.
She dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. They invited her to eat at their table and warm herself by their fire…. They did not rely on a litany of facts to convince but used story instead. Likewise the Greeks used myths and legends to guide moralistic behaviour of their societies. Why should story be any less powerful today? Logic does not persuade — Powerpoint presentations rarely convince. Many a presentation cuts out rhetoric and focuses on hard facts.
They fail to cut-through and communicate. Facts do not have life — they are inert. Story brings facts to life. Decision-making is not driven by facts — People do not need more facts — they need wisdom. Story helps provide meaning, shape and relationship to the data — it paints a picture from the cacophony of dots. Logic draws up the battle lines — Influence is classically described as a power struggle with two points of view in opposition.
Getting someone to admit they are wrong and we are right just brings egos to war. Story lets egos sleep. Facts suggest a solid inflexible truth about them that draws a line in the sand.
Instead their beliefs need to be gently eroded — and storytelling can play a key role. Story works in a different way — story is less direct — it bypasses the power struggles and operates in a more gracious way and prompts less resistance.
We influence by deliberately trying not to influence. Often in meetings there is a stalemate situation with both sides not budging. The author tells her story of walking her dog. The dog goes one way round a lamp post and she the other. So neither of them can carry on walking to their destination.
It is only when both she and the dog back up and walk one side can further progress be made. Everyone understands the metaphor, but being stated through story allows it to be said.
Story works under the radar — Stories get past the rational, critical mind and mines deep down into our emotions at an unconscious level. Critically, the audience makes sense of the story from their own perspective so becomes personally embedded deep within them. It then influences their perception, thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Stories on the other hand operate at an emotional level and thus have a greater potential to influence.
Stories allow people to change their own minds — Story pulls people rather than pushes them. People value their own conclusions more highly than others — a decision reached at personally is thus more effective than one that someone feels pressurised to make.
If the story is good enough, then the audience will come to their own conclusion without being pushed. Stories hold meaning — We are all searching for meaning in this world — to try to make sense of our lives and the world we live in.
Story is a receptacle of meaning and has always been used as a way to help make sense of an unjust, unpredictable world cf gods, monsters, religion and now the new narrative of science.
Stories reframe meaning — Stories can be used to help shift perspective in a subtle manner , allowing us to reframe the meaning we put onto something. One of the issues is that once people have a story, they chose the facts that support their story and ignore the evidence that does not fit it.
Their story is more powerful than the facts. Behaviour is driven by meaning. So in order to shift behaviour one needs to change the meaning people put on things. Story can do that better than rational logic. Present them new facts that contradict their beliefs housed in their own story and they will just choose to discredit, delete or distort them. What one needs to do instead is to give them a new story.
Stories create meaning out of data — To help bring alive data and facts we need to wrap a story around them otherwise the audience will create their own story around them. Thus when we weave a story around data, we invoke a greater power than the sum of the facts we report. A story builds rapport — Storytelling helps us find a common point of connection as they will find their own unique personal connection into our story Humans listen to other peoples stories to validate their own story.
And when our story is engaged with, they unconsciously let us in. This creates a bridgehead that allows further communication to be heard. A story connects deeply — Stories trigger or uncover insights that engage with us through their truth.
Tell the right story and we can make the toughest, most cynical person melt. Stories spread — A story is like a virus — it grows rapidly and gets spread easily. It is an easily transferable vehicle of ideas and meaning. A great story gets replayed time and again within our heads and then gets retold to others. Stories linger long after — The beauty about story is it lingers in the mind long after our audience with them has finished, so it has more time to create an effect.
Stories are easily re-triggered — Symbolism, like metaphor can trigger a whole story to be replayed every-time that one image or word is used. Life is complex — The reality is life is non linear. It is dis-ordered, complex, dynamic and contradictory. Logical analysis implies a simplistic cause-effect relationship which does not hold-up in reality. Story can be more multi-layered than fact and is better able to capture the complexities and contradictions of real life.
The power of an authentic personal story — Authentic personal stories are the most powerful to tell. The paradox about storytelling is the more specific a story is, the greater its universality. To evoke an emotion about their mother, tell a very specific story about your mother. The author suggests to find powerful stories from our own life. Then learn to retell the story from that same place.
By doing so, we reconnect with all the energy, passion and authority it once held. Encouraging people to tell their story and critically to listen to their story is a powerful way to ensure that one really understands what they think and feel about an issue. Trust — Trust is a key driver of influence.
Yet for people they know personally, they expect them to be fair. Who I am and Why I am here are the key stories one first needs to tell, as without being trusted, then they will not want to listen to our point of view. Demonstrating via a story of how we are who we are is more influential than just saying who we are now. We know that true strength is found not in perfection but in understanding our limitations.
It suggests real authenticity e. When we expose these inconsistencies we demonstrate our authenticity — and this allows a deeper point of connection with the listener. This connection then forms a bridge for further communication. People are sceptical.
If people understand what we might gain, then it lifts the veil of suspicion. If we hide our gain, then our message is tainted by a lack of incongruity. Story helps reduce these barriers to our message. One businessman tells the story of how he came from an impoverished childhood, hence why money was so important for him.
A real vision connects with people at a deep level. And storytelling is an ideal vehicle for this. The indirectness of this story told to a manager who kept criticising her team got through more powerfully than any direct communication did.
Values are the underlying drivers of behaviour. We do things that are important to us i. Telling a story of success or failure captures the deeper essence of that value than merely stating it.
Having an insight into how another person is thinking or feeling is key to drive engagement. If we can name their objections first, then our counter arguments are much more likely to be listened to.
Telling such stories can help neutralise concerns without direct confrontation. I have a personal passion for storytelling I did it as my dissertation on my MSc in Change and have run training courses on it. Of all the books I have read on storytelling, this is my favourite.
A key discipline we all need to develop is the skills of critical thinking — spotting the underlying, often unconscious paradigms that drive our behaviour the goldfish does not know he is in a goldfish bowl — nor do we.
The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling
Who are you? Where do you come from? When you seek to influence others you face these questions and more. Tell your story well and you will create a shared experience with your listeners that can have profound and lasting results. In this hyper-competitive, techno-centric, and results-oriented environment it is easy to forget that all organizations are social systems and that work is personal—learning to tap into the personal element through story gives you a key to the social system.
The Story Factor
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The Story Factor Summary and Review
Annette Simmons. This modern classic teaches you to use the art of storytelling to persuade, motivate, and inspire in life and business Anyone seeking to influence others must first know their own story, and how to tell it properly. Whether you're proposing a risky new venture, trying to close a deal, or leading a charge against injustice, you have a story to tell. Tell it well and you will create a shared experience with your listeners that can have profound results. In this modern classic, Annette Simmons reminds us that the oldest tool of influence is also the most powerful. Showcasing over a hundred examples of effective storytelling drawn from the front lines of business and government, as well as myths, fables, and parables form around the world, Simmons illustrates how story can be used to persuade, motivate, and inspire in ways that cold facts, bullets points, and directives can't.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Anyone seeking to influence others must first know their own story, and how to tell it properly. Whether you're proposing a risky new venture, trying to close a deal, or leading a charge against injustice, you have a story to tell. Tell it well and you will create a shared experience with your listeners that can have profound results.