Saturday Sage: Influence People with Stories

Joe Friday, from the TV show Dragnet, said, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” But a sage is known for stories that change lives.

10 reasons to tell a story:

  1. Develop new friendships.
  2. Ignite emotion.
  3. Deepen influence.
  4. Promote relatability.
  5. Encourage empathy.
  6. Establish and strengthen trust.
  7. Boost contagion. People tell stories about the stories they heard.
  8. Instigate curiosity.
  9. Increase impact.
  10. Frame problems that need solutions.

Stories are gifts that go with people when they part.

“A good story is ‘Life with the dull parts taken out’.” Alfred Hitchcock

Love makes great stories. Image of a family.

Learning to tell stories:

When does a sage learn to be a great storyteller? Along the way.

A sage always has a fishing rod in his hand, ready to catch a story.

Great storytellers heard stories when they were kids. Some stories were passed along from year to year, even from generation to generation. 

Eaves dropping is another source of stories. Listen to stories. Never interrupt someone when they are telling their story. Take it in. Never one-up.

A sage observes life in action.

Talent or skill:

Storytelling is not a talent. It is a learned skill. Learn it early. Learn it well. Practice, evaluate, invite others to critique your stories, practice, evaluate, and practice again. 

Great storytellers hone their craft through repetition.   

Great stories captivate, educate, and inspire.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” J.K. Rowling

Great stories take people to new places. Image of a person driving an old yellow pickup truck.

Duration of stories:

Some stories are long; many are short.  Ann Lamott tells a story in fifteen words.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” How many life-changing conversations could begin with those fifteen words?

Ernest Hemingway won a ten-dollar bet by writing this six-word story “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” (The validity of this claim is questionable, but we love the story.)

The length of a story is about connection, not clocks.

“Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in such a way that it increases our influence with them.” John Maxwell

Storytelling is a friend to a sage because it establishes human connection and heightens imagination.

Bad delivery:

  1. Influence flies out the window.
  2. Anticipation wains.
  3. Disappointment turns to resistance when stories are mentioned.
  4. Interest in stories by new storytellers goes down.
  5. Old paradigms take root.
  6. Heart and soul leave the room.
  7. Data becomes god.

A good story told by a bad storyteller wastes time and insults listeners.

Short-sighted leaders move storytelling to the fringes.

“Data doesn’t change our behavior, emotions do.” Karen Eber, TEDx talk

Really! That's it? Image of a puppy looking disappointed.

5 don’ts of storytelling:

  1. Don’t forget who you are talking to. The audience tailors content.
  2. Don’t underestimate the importance of delivery.
  3. Don’t tell too many stories.
  4. Don’t tell your story at the wrong moment.
  5. Don’t try to be funny. Be natural.

5 steps in a great story:

  1. Grab attention. The opening must hook them.
  2. Take people on a journey. Use enthusiasm. Keep people involved.
  3. Build tension. Cliff-hanger-them.
  4. Setup the bam. Invite people to look for surprise.
  5. Reveal the lesson. Give the payoff.

Storytelling questions:

  1. Do you have a good story to tell?
  2. Have you told it enough to make it great?
  3. Are you adding more stories to your list?

Practice storytelling with three people this week. You might test drive a new story.

Still curious:

How to Use Story to Fuel Vitality

How to Use Toy Stories to Connect

A New Question That Invites a Story

This post is a collaboration between Dan Rockwell and Stan Endicott.

Note: I relax my 300-word limit on weekends.