Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a group of lawyers where in a short period of time we had to craft 6 different stories which conveyed a point.
Did we manage to craft the stories in the short period of time we had?
Yes, of course we did. The group came up with stories that moved the audiences so much that we had claps, cheers, standing ovations and tears.
A part of me was thrilled to see the excitement in the room but there was something about the storytelling in action that made me perhaps the only person in the room that was not so satisfied with the outcome.
The issue I had was the emphasis on emotion in the stories being told. Almost every story told, triggered a tear which is a hard thing to achieve and kudos to these lawyers who managed it. But my struggle was that outside of this room, where exactly would you tell this story? You are a lawyer who works with government officials and talk about cloud services, and do storytelling tears work in Boardroom influencing?
Over dinner that night I asked one of the lawyers, “So, would you tell that story to government officials in a boardroom?” Her response, “No, not really but the task was to convey a point, which I did.”
What she said made total sense and I realised even though bringing in a story to convey your point is important, it loses its entire meaning if it is not relevant to your specific audience and purpose.
A lawyer tells stories to influence a judge in a courtroom
A doctor tells stories to connect with patients
A minister tells stories to build trust with communities
A TED speaker tells stories to mass audiences to make his/her ideas spread.
In all of these situations, what is common? You tell a Story.
What is not common? Audience and purpose.
So, even though story is a common denominator, it has to be a different type of a story for each occasion for it to lead to your desired outcome.
A story that works for a lawyer will never work for a TED speaker. So, the magic of stories is only possible by making sure that it is specific to your purpose and who your audience is.
And what about tears? Personally, I am not a fan of tears in boardroom influencing because my purpose is to build credibility, rapport and trust, and I feel very confident about achieving all of that without tears. The question is not – tears or no tears. The question is – is it relevant to your audience and does it meet the purpose?
Our next blog will be on, how would you go about crafting a story that conveys the point, is relevant to audience and on purpose.
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