Tell to win by Peter Guber
Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the hidden power of story.
Historically stories have always been ignites of action, moving people to do things.
- Move your listener’s hearts and their feet and wallet will follow
- Data dumps are not stories - dump them, don’t tell them
- Story isn’t the icing on the cake, it is the cake
- Don’t leave home without it... your story, that is.
Former dean of UCLA’s school of theater, who co-taught the course of navigating a Narrative World with the author, commented. “Stories put all the key facts into an emotional context. The information in a story doesn’t just sit there as it would in a logical proposition. Instead it is built to create response”. And the building block of all compelling stories, whether there are told in person, in the pages of a book, or via actors on a screen or monitor, are challenge, struggle and resolution.
Here is how you should build a story:
- First, get your listener’s attention with an unexpected challenge or question
- Next...give your listeners an emotional experience by narrating the struggle to overcome that challenge or to find the answer to the opening question.
- Finally... galvanize your listeners’ response with an eye-opening resolution that calls them to action.
Siegel who co directs UCLA’s Mindsight Institute and author of books like ‘The developing Mind and the mindful brain’ broke down the essential sequence of surprise as ‘expectation+violation of expectation’. Narratives emerge from violations to expectations.
Challenge, struggle and resolution only give a story its shape. What is the fuel that propels the vehicle? The fuel - the emotional transportation - depends on four critical elements.
- True heroes are sympathetic and recognizable characters
- Drama gets your story moving
- You had me at ahhha
- The me-to-we factor
Why people are so enthralled by drama. Siegel pointed out that emotions don’t occur spontaneously and it has to be aroused. You have to have tension between expectation and uncertainty. Emotional tension drives you to think it might go this way, but it might go that way and that makes you wonder, what will happen next. The more you wonder what will happen next, the more you pay attention. And the more attention you pay, the more you hear, notice and retain.
- A purposeful story is a call to action—be sure to make your call.
- A story without structure leaves your goal unfulfilled.…
- Craft the beginning to shine the light on your challenge or problem.
- Shape the middle around the struggle to meet that challenge.
- End with a resolution that ignites in the listener your call to action.
- Get your audience to step into your hero’s shoes.
- Lead from the heart, not the head.
- Employ the element of surprise.
- Successful stories turn “me” to “we”—align your interests!
- Be sure your story tells what’s in it for them.
- You’re not done till they say, “Ahha! I got it!”
As per Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired magazine, commented. “Narrative is an imperfect tool, but incredibly powerful”.
The impact of a story is intensified during oral telling because these cells are also turned on by the physical sounds, expressions, smells, and movements of the people in the room. Both teller and listener feel this mirror neuron effect. This two-way attunement of mirror neurons creates the optimal state for telling a story. The value added by attunement suggests a major advantage that business people lose when they communicate through documents and media presentations instead communicate through documents and media presentations instead of oral narrative.
Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University, described the significance of story in a verbal equation: meaning + memory = knowledge-ability. Meaning, he said, emerges when we make connections between bits of information.
The people who read the stories in booklets or newsletters or watched them on video hardly mentioned them to their colleagues. This is not same as storytelling. The more the audience trusted the speaker, the more they trusted the authenticity of the telling and the greater its power to influence them. “It wasn’t the story that was having the impact,” Steve realized, “but oral storytelling.”
- You’re pre wired for story, but you must turn it on!
- The marketplace wants stories, so give them what they want.
- Stories make facts and figures memorable, resonant, and actionable.
- Ignite empathy in the room and face-to-face, and your audience won’t just hear you, they’ll feel you!
- Purposeful storytelling isn’t show business, it’s good business.
“If the lion doesn’t tell his story, the hunter will” is an African saying.
- Own your back-story so it doesn’t sabotage you when you tell your front story.
- Be active in your own rescue; confront the stories that others are telling about you.
- Leverage the back-story that rules your listener; it can be a powerful ally.
Whether you’re a CEO, salesperson, volunteer organizer, or small business owner, your listeners will never fully connect to you, buy into your proposition, or join your parade unless they can trust you. And only if they respect your motives and empathize with you as a fellow human being will they feel that trust. To tell a compelling story, then, you need to be authentic in your passion for your goal, and that passion needs to be congruent with your experience and commitment.
Authenticity is a powerful persuader. Whatever story you tell, if you are perceived to be authentic, your audience will hear you empathetically and be more likely to embrace your passion. When someone shows a genuine drive to overcome all obstacles, that’s compelling, because to succeed you have to have true conviction.
- To tell a great story, make preparation your partner.
- Demonstrate authenticity and congruence; they’re the rails on which your story rides.
- Show you’ve got skin in the game.
- Aim for the heart of your goal—emotionalize your offering. Be interested in what interests your listeners and they’ll find your story interesting and your goal compelling.
- Remember, the context in which you tell your story colors the story you tell.
- Be dialed in; your listener’s prejudices can hijack even your best story.
The hero of a story is the character who makes the hard decisions and actually feels meaningful change happen within himself.
In my courses at UCLA over the years, my graduate students often ask where they can find source material for purposeful stories, given that they’ve barely begun their careers. Based on my experience, I tell them that narrative is always lurking, ready to give emotion to information, shape to experience, and propulsion to purpose. But as organizational story guru Steve Denning said at one of our narrative conclaves, the key is not to expect to find a story fully born, perfectly framed and ready for use, but to constantly stockpile fragments that have the potential to become constantly stockpile fragments that have the potential to become stories. “Once you have enough material to tell a story, then you have to perfect it.”
Thinking back over the stories I’ve told in my own career, I’ve found that the most effective story material usually comes from firsthand experience. When you narrate an event that has actually happened to you, it’s natural to infuse your telling with the emotional highs, lows, and inflections you felt at the time, whether you were the hero or a secondary participant in that drama. Your personal feeling will ignite your listener's’ empathy and carry them along on your emotional journey. Plus, personal experiences are easy to remember and tell with authenticity because you lived them.
Finally, one of the richest sources of story material is history, with its vast wealth of legends, myths, and true adventures.
- Heroes come in all shapes and sizes—teller, listener, customer, product, location, and tribe; choose the hero that fits your goal.
- Your first hand or witnessed experience is the best raw material for your story.
- Use metaphors and analogies to fire up imagination and illumination.
- Engage the powerful narratives in books, movies, and history to emotionalize your call to action.
- Get yourself into state; it’s about attitude, not aptitude.
- Bring high energy—the catalyst for great storytelling.
- Your listeners may be one or many, but they’re always an audience, and audiences expect experiences.
- Demonstrate vulnerability; it isn’t a liability, it’s an asset.
- Persist, persist, persist to turn “no” into “on.”
- Be aware that your body is talking before your tongue moves.
- Capture your audience’s attention first, fast, and foremost.
- Be interactive—engage your audience’s senses early and often.
- Arouse your listener’s curiosity.
- Choose carefully the props, tools, and resources that support your tell.
- Listen actively; it’s a dialogue, not a monologue.
- Be ready and willing to drop your script when the situation calls for it—and it always calls for it.
- Surrender control and proprietorship of your story; your audience has to own it to tell it forward.
- Empower your audience to tell your story forward.
- Create a multiplier effect. Find the core audience who can be apostles for your message and encourage them to tell your story through the power of their own words.
- In the face of adversity, be willing to recast your story through the lens of your listeners’ new needs while remaining authentic to your story’s core elements.
- Legacy stories are powerful and enduring. Abandon them at your peril.
- Don’t rely solely on state-of-the-art technologies to connect. It’s the state-of-the-heart technology that’s the game changer when you tell your story in the room, face-to-face.
- Be ambidextrous—emotionally transport your listeners to your goal online and offline through the art of the tell.
- Tell to Win! Use it well. Use it purposefully. Use it to your greatest advantage.
To continue your journey and find out more about how you can tell purposeful stories to connect, persuade, and triumph through the hidden power of story, please visit www.telltowin.com.
Book referred in this book
The developing Mind and the mindful brain by Dan Siegel
The secret language of leadership and the leader's guide to storytelling
Free and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson