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Leaders Use Storytelling for Greater Influence

by Kathy Cooperman

Why should you use storytelling? In a nutshell, using storytelling will help you influence others much better than not using it. Telling stories effectively shapes attitudes and behaviors.

You may not think of yourself as a storyteller, but the good news is that we’re all natural-born storytellers. Think about how easily you share stories around your dinner table or with friends at a party or over drinks or coffee.

Science proves that weaving in stories boosts cooperation among your listeners. During a well-told story, listeners’ brains produce “feel-good” hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine. This triggers a positive and optimistic feeling in listeners.

Remember the unforgettable 2014 Super Bowl commercial titled “Puppy Love,” featuring an adorable yellow Lab puppy and a Clydesdale (best buds)? That 60-second commercial soared above the others as Anheuser-Busch earned top honors among viewers. What a simple but heartwarming story told in 60 seconds!

Guidelines for storytelling

Here are some simple steps to remember when using stories at work:

1. Know your purpose.
What is your “big idea”? What do you want people to remember? For example, do you want them to get on board with a change? Would you like them to work better as a team? Would you like them to build better relationships with clients/customers? Would you like investors to support your new product idea?

2. Draft your story.
Try writing a draft on paper — or simply telling your story into your smartphone voice recorder. Another method is to “storyboard” your ideas on Post-it notes — laying out one idea per note. This is a favorite technique used by many because it’s easy to move ideas around and add new ideas until you get it just right. To be effective, be sure to make a link from your story to your “big idea.”

3. Ask for feedback. Share your story with trusted colleagues or friends. Ask how they reacted to the story. Ask for ideas for improvement. Ask whether anything is confusing. Ask whether they can tell you what the “big idea” is. Be sure to thank your feedback providers!

4. Consider the feedback/refine.
You don’t have to incorporate all the feedback you receive. Allow a day or so to let it sink in and then edit your story until you feel like it’s ready to go.

5. Share your story. At the end of your story, be sure to have a clear “call to action.” What exactly are you asking people to do?

One of the best sources for learning about storytelling is Ted Talks. Bryan Stevenson (a human rights lawyer) is one of my favorites. He earned the longest standing ovation among Ted speakers for his 2012 Ted Talk, “We Need to Talk About an Injustice.” He effectively weaves three heartwarming stories into his “big idea,” beginning with a touching story about his grandmother.
Convinced? I encourage you to get started today. For coaching or training on storytelling, please contact KC Leadership Consulting LLC at 720-542-3324.

Kathy Cooperman, an executive coach and leadership expert, is the president and founder of KC Leadership Consulting LLC. For more information, contact her at kathy@kathycooperman.com, www.kathycooperman.com or 720.542.3324.

Submitted 25 days ago
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Categories: categoryLeader Acceleration
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