I put myself in the category of a motivational speaker, but I consider myself nothing more than a storyteller. And I don't think anything more is needed. Because if you have the ability to tell a powerful value-filled story, then it will serve you well in life and in business. Most of us have something we want to "sell" – a truth we want to share – information we want to transfer – an impact we want to make. This information, while it may be interesting, has no impact until you wrap it in a way that speaks beyond their mind, to their heart. Information does not convince. The story does that. Stories do what information can't. They take your information and make it real to the receiver. Delivering information has a pushing action – telling a story has a pulling action. When I tell a story people don't move. They don't text. They don't chat. They don't poke their neighbor. While I'd love to think it's because I'm a good storyteller, I give more credit to the vehicle - story – and its power to do what I can not.
In case you are not convinced, think about American Idol and how we get so involved in the stories of the characters. Sometimes (think Susan Boyle) we fall in love with the story more than the singing. Think about Taylor Swift. There are many who don't understand her fame – many who think her talent just does not match it. I understand completely. But I know what they love about her. She's not just singing – she's telling stories. Not hers – theirs. In fact, wouldn't you say that the music you love is the music that tells your story and speaks to your heart? Songs are just stories set to music. And last time I checked, music was still going strong. Same thing with movies. We buy into the story that speaks to us – and for two hours we are lost in it. I would challenge you to watch people in positions of impact (leaders, politicians, bosses, preachers, changers of the world) and see if and how they use stories. Watch good television commercials for the same thing. Are they focusing on the product, or are they telling the story of you using this product? Watch the storytellers in life around you.
And here's the ultimate test: Try telling your eight-year-old what to do versus telling him a story that teaches that principle. See which one works better. The story will get his attention. And he will remember it. He still may not do it – but at least you got his attention. I didn't say storytelling would work miracles.
And so today, as we embark on the end of one year and look towards another, I ask that you take a serious look at storytelling and its power to help you impact others. How are you using stories? What are the many areas of your life where a story would fit? Where are the many facets of your business where storytelling would help you connect with your customers or employees? (Think sales calls, web, blogs, facebook page, even phone conversations!) What are the stories that make up your portfolio? What is YOUR story?
(PS I should have followed my own advice. This whole article is filled with information - things you should do. I broke my own rule. I'm not walking my talk. I could have told one story proving the power of stories, and it would have been highly more effective. I could have SHOWN you instead of TOLD you. Oh well. Maybe next time.)