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… from our top ten tips podcast… covering a wide range of management and personal development topics… new episodes weekly.
  1. storytelling is key to effective leadership

    If you want to be an effective leader, it’s really helpful to be able to tell stories, to get your key messages across.  And whether you’re a leader or not, if you wish to influence others then telling stories, which includes metaphors and analogies, can be a very powerful way of connecting people to you.

  2. people are hardwired to listen to stories

    It’s really important to recognize that it’s an easy thing for an audience or a listener to do. And that’s because over the years, Over the centuries, we have become hardwired to transmit information through storytelling. Storytelling has  been with us in evolutionary evolutionary terms longer than any other communication device. We tell stories. And that means that over the centuries, over the years, we have come to expect and accommodate stories without really thinking too hard about it.

  3. stories are easy and comfortable to listen to

    We don’t have to be directly connected to or challenged by a story. We don’t have to be thinking too hard about a story – we’re in what I would call a relaxed state when storytelling takes place. It makes it makes listening to stories easy. There are certain expectations we have as listeners about stories about their shape, their structure, their components. And so if we can feed these as a storyteller, then the listeners with those expectations, those familiar, comfortable elements of storytelling, they will sit back and just enjoy it, relax.

  4. stories are a powerful and indirect way to influence

    When listening to stories, the listeners defences tend to be down. They’re not really expecting to be challenged personally, because storytelling isn’t about them. It’s about whoever the story is about. So it’s what in NLP, we would call an indirect way of getting our messages across because it’s not about them. People don’t feel threatened, they don’t feel challenged.

    We’re really listening to a story that. Involve us in any element of the story. We’re not on the stage. If you like, we’re not associated with the story. We are watching it from an audience perspective safely, securely in our own seats. And as a result, we’re easily engaged and not over critical of, of feeling defensive about it’s about me.

  5. because it’s not about them, it is…

    Because the story is not about them, it’s easier for them to make it about them because the storyteller isn’t making it about them. So rather than being told “this is about you”, which would automatically raise their critical and defensive faculties, they are in control of making any assumptions or connections they want.  So finding similarities between the story and their own experience themselves, because it is their choice, they are more open to such connections.

  6. have a clear narrative or structure

    Make sure you incorporate the typical components in a story – so that it meets the audience’s expectations.  This happens, then this happens. Then this happens, then this happens easy to follow a beginning.

  7. have relevant key players

    Typically somebody representing good and somebody representing evil, often a story will include character that’s mysterious that just gets introduced early on, and you’re not really clear what their role is, but you hang on in there listening to the story and the appearance from time to time of the mysterious, other who will possibly act in some fairly crucial way in the story itself.  And then there are the comedy players. Then people with particularly strong characteristics. That’s the other key point about the players. They have to have key characteristics that you can identify with – not just good and evil, but this person is principled, this person likes spending money; this person is emotional; this person is highly rational, and so on.

  8. create empathy

    In order for the story to be successful, the audience has to empathise with something or someone in the story. Very often it’s one or more of the characters, the key players, or it might be they can empathise with a particular situations. Because you want the audience to say, “oh, he or she is like me or I am like him or her”. That’s empathy with the characters. Or, “yep. I’ve been in that situation. I know what it’s like to be there”, in which case there’s empathy with the situation, the context.

  9. develop a plot

    Most stories have some kind of plot or purpose – to answer the audience’s question, “why am I listening to this? What’s it going to deliver for me? What’s the end point going to be? What’s the punchline?”  The purpose may only be revealed at the end, but it has to have some kind of closure, some kind of ending some possible moral or value or message to share.  Sometimes that’s very, very clear and sometimes the audience may have to work it out for themselves.

  10. follow TED

    TED talks have some brilliant examples of what this podcast has been talking about.  And if you haven’t already, give a listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ and Ben Zander’s talk on ‘The Transformative Power of Classical Music’ for two of many great TED storytellers in action.

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We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
But it really helps us
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We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
But it really helps us
Stay on top of our game…