Picked up this book after reading some amazing books on storytelling. And half way through, even though I have found some great points in this book, my honest evaluation is that book has lot of philosophy – instead of getting straight to the point, it meanders and loses my attention after every third sentence. All the good tips in the book could have been communicated in far fewer-pages, but the author has communicated them with ocean of words and lot of self-hype. For instance – the story about his success at World Bank is told repeatedly, how his story reached the president of World Bank and lead to a certain change in the organisation.
And yet, despite my impatience in the beginning the book does have a host of wonderful insights to offer :
Well-Prepared Is Half Won
The preparation for a storytelling performance is laborious and repetitive but the actual performance is like white-water rafting. The various options must be considered, tried out, and evaluated for the possible impact. During the performance, the rush of events will sweep you, the lips will be moving faster than the mind and you will flow effortlessly. With effort and discipline, anyone can get it right. It is the result not of natural powers but of meticulous preparation.
A springboard story tells how one person typical of the audience carried out some recent change that improved the organisation. It explains what would have happened without the change. The story has a happy ending, and the teller closes with a link to the purpose he or she hopes to achieve: how these examples can springboard the audience and organization to a better future.
When starting a story, don’t announce, “I am going to tell you a true story…” there is likely to be a pushback from the audience. When someone tells you he’s an honest man, you tend to reach for your wallet to make sure its still there. The better way to signal that you are telling a true story is to start with the date and place.
“In June 2010, I was in Singapore for a project..”
Begin With The Negatives
How to tell a positive story during a generally grim situation? The key is to get all the bad news up front, and then tell your positive story. Here is an example
“I am going to tell you about something that happened when Titanic Sank. It was a horrible thing. Fifteen hundred people drowned. It was a massive engineering disaster for a ship that was supposed to be unsinkable. Gross incompetence and stupidity on the part of the captain. Criminal negligence in not supplying the ship with enough lifeboats.
This was a catastrophe – one of the worst naval disasters of the twentieth century.
But within that tragic scene, something rather wonderful happened to a young man on that ship. Let me tell”
How To Tell Your Own Story?
The story that you tell as a leader to communicate who you are, is the not the entire story of your existence, but it will be representative selection from your authentic life story. It takes courage to tell a strong personal story, because the story implies certain values that you will hold to even if the world changes. Thus, you will need to be clear about what you believe and base your actions on those beliefs, time after time, even if it makes you unpopular.
Watch this space for the second part of this blog. Also, we would love to hear book suggestions from you guys. After all, with social distancing becoming the new norm, reading is one habit everyone should be picking up!