The Effectiveness of Stories
Yesterday I was with Robert McKee. He is known as the ‘Godfather of story-telling’. His students have won 60 Academy Awards and 170 Emmys. He once showed a construction company how to go from $1billion to $2billion turnover in less than a year, by using effective stories in their pitching. He explained his thoughts on the importance of effective stories in business.
It is really challenging to get the attention of your clients and your team, because we live in the ‘age of interruption’. People are constantly interrupted by adverts, texts, emails and tweets. Interruption selling no longer works. You can’t argue your way into a sale anymore.
Many people think ‘the facts will speak for themselves’. They won’t! That’s your job! Facts are not truth. They are neutral. We need your help to understand those facts, by finding out the story behind the facts.
If your product or service is similar to someone else’s then you need to differentiate yourself by telling a better story. Even if you are outstanding, your reputation is created by the stories that people tell about you.
Stories are also critical in your team meetings. If you want to inspire, lead and motivate people, they don’t want data, they want a vision. After all, there are no facts about the future, just a selection of stories about what the data means.
Imagine if every member of your team and every one of your clients had a compelling story about why they worked with you. Not just a reason, but a story that engaged them logically and emotionally.
Bolt, a construction company, used to win around 1 in 10 of their bids for work. They just told people facts and hoped that would be enough. Since adopting a story-telling culture in their pitching they are now winning five times as many, by delivering the same facts in a more engaging way.
If you want to achieve the same kind of success the three main things you can do are:
- Use purpose-told stories
Fiction stories are for entertainment. The audience is engaged, but they are passive. In business you need purpose-told stories. They need to trigger action. The audience needs to become active. For example, business strategies need to be a story of the future. Don’t just give your team a number to hit, give them a story they can achieve. Use humanistic presentations
You need to switch from scientific presentations to humanistic. You still need data, but you need to put it in a form that people actually understand, such as a story, to give meaning. Wisdom is created when you combine knowledge and experience to give it meaning in a story.
- Create a story-telling culture
Great stories will hook our attention, hold it and compel us to act. Can you say the same of most power-point presentations?
It is estimated that around £8billion is wasted each year in the UK on paying for the time it takes people to create slides. Very little of that information is retained, understood or acted on.
At Amazon, slides are forbidden. People bring stories to their meetings, to ensure that everyone can fully understand and remember what is happening in their business.
The stories that people tell help shape the future. They will influence how their clients and staff make decisions every day and ultimately influence your success and failure.
To learn more about how we can help you please contact our team.