Lead with a Story

A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire

 Lead with a Story

Author: Paul Smith
Pub Date: August 2012
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814420300
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814420317

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Why Tell Stories?

Ten Reasons for Embracing Storytelling as a Business Tool

Today, many of the most successful companies on the planet—Microsoft, Nike, 3M, FedEx, Disney, P&G, and NASA among them—use storytelling as a training, communications, and leadership tool. Why is storytelling so effective? In his new book, LEAD WITH A STORY (AMACOM 2012), corporate storyteller Paul Smith shares ten compelling reasons:

1. Storytelling is simple. “Anyone can do it,” Paul Smith assures. “You don’t need a degree in English or even an MBA.”

2. Storytelling is timeless. Six Sigma, TQM, reengineering...management fads come and go. “Storytelling has always worked for leadership,” Smith attests, “and it always will.”

3. Stories are demographic-proof. Who likes to listen to engaging, well-told stories? Everybody—regardless of age, education level, gender, ethnicity, race, or creed.

4. Stories are contagious. “They can spread like wildfire without any additional effort on the part of the storyteller,” Smith attests.

5. Stories are easier to remember. Lessons from a story are remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts. According to one major study, facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.

6. Stories inspire. “Slides don’t,” says Smith, speaking from experience. People rarely acclaim “Wow!” and rush out to retell what they saw in a PowerPoint presentation.

7. Stories appeal to all types of learners. “Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures storytelling evokes,” Smith asserts. “Auditory learners focus on the words and the storyteller’s voice. Kinesthetic learners, who learn best by doing, experiencing, or feeling, remember the emotional connections and feelings from the story.”

8. Stories fit better where most of the learning happens in the workplace. Studies show that up to 70 percent of new skills and information acquired in the workplace come through informal learning. “And the bedrock of informal learning is storytelling,” Smith notes.

9. Stories put the listener in a mental learning mode. Stories spark curiosity and interest rather than the urge to evaluate or criticize. As organizational psychologists have found, stories tend to put listeners in a receptive frame of mind for learning.

10. Telling stories shows respect for the audience. No one likes to be forced to accept a superior’s conclusions. And no one likes to be bossed around. “Stories get your message across,” Smith stresses, “without arrogantly telling listeners what to think or do.”

Adapted from LEAD WITH A STORY: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith (AMACOM 2012).

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