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Storytelling: Proof of Its Power

In the past, the Mentor has extolled the virtues of storytelling (Storytelling is a Powerful Sales Tool, MFTM, March 2014). In his recent HBR.org article, Why Your Brain Loves Storytelling, Paul Zak shares the science behind the art of storytelling, and it is fascinating insight. The entire article is worth reading, but here are the most relevant excerpts for sales professionals:

Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling
By Paul J. Zak | HBR.org | 10/28/14

“… Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

… These findings on the neurobiology of storytelling are relevant to business settings. For example, my experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later. In terms of making impact, this blows the standard PowerPoint presentation to bits. I advise business people to begin every presentation with a compelling, human-scale story. Why should customers or a person on the street care about the project you are proposing? How does it change the world or improve lives? How will people feel when it is complete? These are the components that make information persuasive and memorable.

…don’t forget that your organization has its own story – its founding myth. An effective way to communicate transcendent purpose is by sharing that tale. What passion led the founder(s) to risk health and wealth to start the enterprise? Why was it so important, and what barriers had to be overcome? These are the stories that, repeated over and over, stay core to the organization’s DNA. They
provide guidance for daily decision-making as well as the motivation that comes with the conviction that the organization’s work must go on, and needs everyone’s full engagement to make a difference in people’s lives.

…When you want to motivate, persuade, or be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and eventual triumph. It will capture people’s hearts – by first attracting their brains.”

Great Selling!

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