People tell stories all the time and don’t realize it. “This book is actually designed to help you pay better attention to the stories you tell, so you can teach, build vision, share a process or introduce a new idea more effectively,” says storytelling thought leader Annette Simmons.
Influence, persuade, inspire
Simmons explains why storytelling that is used to influence others is more than a tool for the marketing professional or fundraiser. Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins is widely applied by leaders to influence, persuade and inspire. In Whoever Tells, you’ll learn how to build consensus, win others over to your point of view, and foster group decision making by using six kinds of stories.
These stories are often the reasons why donors give, why board members act, why stakeholders advocate or why people collaborate. Annette Simmons not only explains why this skill is so critical to everyone, but also how to learn and develop what many people mistakenly believe is a rare gift only a few of us enjoy.
Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins takes you step by step through the process of identifying and choosing stories from your own life, experience and knowledge, and then linking them, fully and authentically, to the themes, messages and goals of your workplace.
You’ll gain skills in how to influence others, improve collective decision making and leverage the approval of ideas you’re presenting. Simmons helps you accomplish these goals by using six kinds of stories:
Six kinds of stories
1. Who-I-Am Stories: People need to know who you are before they can trust you.
2. Why-I-Am-Here Stories: People can be wary so you must disarm them by sharing your agenda.
3. Teaching Stories: Some lessons are best learned from telling a story that creates a shared experience.
4. Vision Stories: The idea of a worthy, exciting future can reframe difficulties and diminish obstacles.
5. Values-In-Action Stories: Tell a story that illustrates the real-world manifestation of a value.
6. I-Know-What-You-Are-Thinking Stories: These stories address possible suspicions and dispel them to build trust.
Working definition, how to identify good stories and Simmons’ approach
Simmons defines “story” as a “reimagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listeners’ imaginations to experience it as real.” There are many other definitions but this one is helpful because it keeps you focused on stories that influence and change perceptions.
She adds, “Stories replenish information with the food of human connection and reignite powerful motivations stimulated when we feel the sense of our shared humanity.”
According to the author, once you know how to find and tell stories that feel personal to you and your receivers, you have what you need to acknowledge, connect with and emotionally move others. The best storytellers understand how to use their own emotional responses as indicators of what will resonate with others.
Why you must tell stories from the inside out
Most storytelling advice instructs you to tell the story from the outside in. All stories have a beginning, middle and end. They have a plot, character, setting, conflict and resolution. These elements are all true but they don’t generate an emotional connection.
Conversely, telling personal stories teaches you storytelling from the inside out, which puts emotion and personal connection first. “Unless you bring a beating heart to your message, it is dead. But when you tell your own heartfelt stories about what is meaningful in your life and work, you get the hang of finding stories that frame life and work in emotionally meaningful ways for your listeners.”
Why you should take a closer look at Simmons’ book
If you find yourself in any situation where it is essential to engage a listener, audience, prospect, board or task force, you will find Whoever Tells exceptionally useful. Simmons’ well-researched and example-rich chapters help you build a foundation of stories that will become useful to you in a variety of settings. The book is well-written, clearly organized and an enjoyable read. In storytelling terms, there are no cliff hangers. Rather, Simmons provides you with heroic ideas and satisfying endings to each chapter.
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