A story is an account of imaginary or real people and events often told for entertainment. However, you may not have realized the power of story as a functional means of influence. The inspiration for this article comes from a really well-written book by Lisa Cron, Wired for Story : The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. This book goes into great detail about the anatomy of a compelling story, and the psychological reasons why stories are such incredible tools of influence for marketers and leaders. Since this is an article about story, I'd originally intended to lead off with a story as an example. However, after writing it, I realized it was a compelling story about leadership and communication, so I turned it into a standalone artice. If you are interested, it's titled The Role of Communication in Becoming a Great Leader.
Think of the most talented and influential leaders you know. The chances are pretty good that they told a compelling story (or a number of them) during their latest talk. The chances are also pretty good that you found the story entertaining. While you may not have remembered all the technical details of the speech, you likely can remember the story, or a series of them. If you think deeper, you will probably find that none of these stories were random. Each story was carefully chosen to illustrate a particular lesson or idea the leader wanted to impart on the audience.
People are continually evaluating their life for meaningful patterns, and are quickly able to discern patterns within the context of a story. A compelling story is an effective tool to get your message out in a way that resonates with your intended audience. The use of story is not unique to leaders. This tool is also heavily used by marketers. Behind each marketing message is a carefully crafted story that is intended to resonate with the targeted audience. These stories heavily influence our decisions to buy, recommend, suggest, and promote a wide range of products, concepts, and ideas.
While there are a number of elements to a compelling story, at their core, they all come back to three simple concepts.
While the book Wired for Story : The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence goes into great detail on a number of important points regarding the telling of a compelling story, the list below contains the condensed version of a number of these ideas.
Story-telling is not just for writers. There are numerous practical applications of story telling that are leveraged every day in the workplace. Story-telling is a great way to influence others or help them recognize the value of your point of view. While some individuals are naturally great storytellers, even those who are not genetically predisposed to this activity can become quite expert. Like anything else, it begins with the process of learning some fundamentals, and then continually practicing and improving until you've achieved your desired level of skill.
Thanks for reading (this sentance)! This is the section where I ask you to do things that will have no apparent benefit to you (like sharing this article). However, if you thought it was a good article (I was going to say 'great article', but figured that I would probably be setting the bar too high), sharing it will make you look smart amoung your friends. If you thought it was terrible, you could still share it (and ask your friends if they think it's as terrible as you do). In either case, you will continue to impress your friends with your ability to discern a good article from a bad one. And as a side benefit to me, it might increase (if only for the briefest moment), the incredibly meager visitor traffic and rather terrible SEO ranking that is currently possessed by this site.
However, if asking you to share a bad article (or even just an 'OK' one) would cause too much damage to your stellar reputation, you can still help more anonymously. If you found the slightest thread of value in this post, you could read one more article from this site. This would help my bounce rate, which is hovering just under 100% (if you're not familiar with the metric, that's a pretty poor number). Of course, if you found this article totally worthless, I would suggest not coming back. While the quality of the articles may improve as I get more practice, I really doubt if they'll improve enough to change your mind.