Using stories to articulate messages have always been controversial. Many dismiss it as nothing but an unprofessional gimmick used by sales mostly, while others swear by them.
A few years ago, Rob Walker, a New York Times Magazine journalist set out to do a social experiment to test the effectiveness of storytelling. He started the experiment by buying 200 items from eBay for a total of $185. The items can best be described as junk and worthless items. He took pictures of each item and invited 200 professional writers to write a backstory about one of the items, and they did. He then reposted these items, with the pictures and their backstory back on eBay.
Keep in mind, there are thousands and thousands of similar items if not the same, on eBay already listed for $1 or less. The only differentiating factor is, each of his items had its own unique backstory.
My question to you is…
How much do you think he sold the items for?
The answer is ..
He sold the items for over $8k! Which is over a 6,000% increase in profit. This was only possible due to simple short backstories that transformed worthless items into items of value.
So why am I sharing this story with you?
In the business world today, we have become so reliant on powerpoints filled with jargon and business talk, such as increase agility, mitigate risk, improve speed to market, etc., supported by a long list of stats and beautiful graphs. But is this the best way to articulate your message and gain buy-in from your audience?
In my opinion, the answer is NO.
We live in an increasingly competitive world and it is becoming more difficult for decision makers to differentiate between alternatives offered and a well-told story can be the deciding factor.
Yet, many are reluctant to deviate from the common powerpoint pitch and augment their presentation with storytelling, for the fear of being perceived as unprofessional. I would argue that storytelling is a persuasion tool that has been used by some of the most successful professional leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, and many others.
For us to differentiate ourselves and articulate our message effectively… We need to master the Art of Story Telling.
I hope you have found the post informative and thank you for reading.