What's Your Story?

"Communication is the transfer of emotion." — Seth Godin


I'll bet you can recount all the plot details of your favourite movie. You can still tell that funny high school story to some new friends, even after all these years. And that hilarious news article you read word for word last month ... it seems stuck in your mind forever, along with photos in the article.

Why do we remember these details from long-ago, but we can't seem to recall ANY details from an important business presentation we sat through last week from our CEO? Why can't we remember our organization's annual goals or corporate values (provided to us verbally, through video, and in writing) and we all feel our leaders should communicate more often?

The answer is storytelling; building and communicating information through an emotional and powerful narrative arc that etches itself into our memories. It's how humans learn best. Think of the tradition of bards and griots who travelled on foot to distant villages, sharing news and teaching through the power of spoken stories.  Our best journalists, authors, screenwriters, speechwriters and songwriters still create and communicate stories that imprint on us forever.

In the business world, those who aren't comfortable "telling stories" may call this practice scenario planning, hedgehog and BHAG building, or brand narrative creation.

How can crafting a compelling story about your people and information help your message to better resonate with audiences?

A classic (1991) book about the power of storytelling for corporate planning (i.e. scenario planning) is "The Art of the Long View" by Peter Schwartz. He's part of Stewart Brand's "Long Now" group.