Storytelling in Business

In 2011 Peter Guber, the Academy Award winning producer of movies including Rain Man The Color Purple and Bat Man, wrote a book called Tell to Win. It’s about how to capture your audience’s attention and get your message across when presenting, so that you achieve more success in getting the results you want.

For example, you might relate it to improving your weekly BNI 60 seconds to improve the value of referrals generated for you by your local chapter.

A few years back, Guber invited BNI founder, Dr Ivan Misner, to a day about storytelling in business.

Peter Guber is clearly passionate about the power of story telling and considers it the ‘secret sauce’ that has enabled him to achieve his success in life. He decided to create this opportunity for a diverse group of experts to come together to exchange ideas, and be inspired and enlightened. He invited about 16 people including yours truly, myself, along with people like Warren Bennis. Warren is one of the world’s foremost experts on leadership. Of course Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, and Mark Victor Hansen who was a co-author of Chicken Soup For The Soul, as well as more than a dozen other story tellers from various businesses, backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Basically, this group found that, or talked about the fact that, effective story telling is an important part of one’s emotional intelligence – emotional intelligence. I’ve always believed in using stories to make a point, but I’ve never really given a lot of thought, of some of the how’s and why’s of their effectiveness. There were a number of take-aways for me from this meeting that I want to share with BNI members around the world. Here are a couple. Storytelling is about tapping into a passion about some topic. It’s about taking the listener to a place that is visceral, visual, concrete, emotional and possibly unexpected. Now this is important for members to understand when they’re doing their 60 second presentations, and when they’re doing their 10 minute presentations. If they can make those presentations more visceral, visual, concrete, emotional and unexpected, they’re going to be a lot more effective.

One of the participants, a gentleman who I’m getting to know really well, a great guy, Dr. Mark Goulston, said that a story is a portable storage unit for one’s dreams, fears, hopes, humor and sorrows that people visit or visits people from time to time, for them to stay in contact with their humanity. The group loved that definition and I really love it too. A story is a portable storage unit for one’s dreams, fears, hopes, humor and sorrows that people visit or visits people from time to time, for them to stay in contact with their humanity.

Mark Victor Hansen, who’s one of the co-authors for Chicken Soup Of The Soul, said that when the authors were working on the Chicken Soup series, they were looking for stories that gave people God-bumps or goose-bumps. I love that– God-bumps or goose-bumps, happy tears, a change in perception, weakness in the knees, or a change in your life. I think one of the best comments of the day came from Peter Guber who said, ” ‘What if ‘ is more powerful than ‘how to’ in a story”. Now that is really appropriate to BNI. ‘What if ‘ is more powerful than ‘how to’. If BNI members can talk about ‘what if’ rather than ‘how to’ they’re really going to connect with other members more effectively. I think that’s very true indeed.

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