How do we inspire others towards great moments, movements, and causes? How do leaders truly move people? Rallying communities towards greater ideals has become more and more ubiquitous. With services like GoFundMe and Kickstarter, it seems anyone can set a goal and plot a path for others to join in the journey. More and more, people seem to be congregating around singular societal ideals that define them in the eyes of others. But no matter how large or small an objective, it should always begin with a story.
To convince others, we often find it easier to connect ideas through the values told in a tale. Simply presenting the facts of a situation often isn’t enough to draw attention to the importance of the subject we’re explaining. Psychologist Vanessa Boris notes in this HBR article “storytelling forges connections among people, and between people and ideas. Stories convey the culture, history, and values that unite people”. If we want to motivate each other in organizational life, we can best do this by weaving a story that connects to people on a deeper intrinsic level. Boris adds, “an organization’s stories, and the stories its leaders tell, help solidify relationships in a way that factual statements encapsulated in bullet points or numbers don’t.”
To craft stories that will influence, we must dedicate time to choosing the right words–less is more! The whole point is to avoid boring people with details and data, and instead convey a message succinctly and vigorously. We want to immediately seize their attention, reeling them in without releasing them until the final resonating thoughts are left lingering in the air. To this end, try launching into your stories without lofty prologues. Dive straight in by giving ample focus to the conflict, allowing the audience to feel the emotions in the story. Expression of language is always crucial, but so is drawing the story from the heart. The ability to relate aspects of ourselves through the experiences told is what elicits empathy and understanding in others.
Lastly, to convince others of a message, end the story with either a heartwarming resolution or a poignant lesson. This approach to tightly packaging a story will cement core ideas and motifs in not only the minds of the audience but in their hearts as well. In this way, framing an argument or a proposal in the shape of a story—one with humble origins, tragic conflict, and meaningful resolution—will not only captivate your audience but likely move them a bit closer to seeing things from your perspective.
Stories and the emotions they stir are universal. Collectively, we’ve survived and thrived for thousands of years based on our ability to tell and recall the stories that keep us safe, set us up for success, and connect us to one another. Tap into a time-old tradition of storytelling and you might just find a wide-eyed and captive audience ready to follow your lead.
“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”
— Ira Glass
Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider