Powered by Storytelling: A book review by Bob Morris

Powered by Storytelling: Excavate, Craft, and Present Stories to Transform Business Communication
Murray Nossel
McGraw-Hill Education (April 2018)

How listening/storytelling can help people to “navigate conflict, resolve disagreements, and avoid emotional outbursts”

Throughout history, almost all of the greatest leaders were highly effective storytellers. They anchored ideas in human experience with which most people could easily identify. Their powers of communication appealed to both the mind and the heart, convincing or inspiring whenever necessary.

Consider the fact that each of the four levels of discourse — exposition, description, narration, and argumentation — has the greatest impact when powered by effective storytelling. In this book Murray Nossel identifies and explains several scientific methods can transform business communications. Much of the material can also help to improve non-business communications. In marriages, for example, and in parenting as well in teaching, coaching, and most other relationships in which understanding and being understood are so important.

Nossel introduces the Narrativ Method for creating stories:

1. Excavating: Generating your own story ideas
2. Crafting: Shaping your story elements in a classic story structure
3. Presenting: Performing your story for an audience

He identifies the basic principles of that method:

1. Humans are hardwired for story.
2. Everyone has a story.
3. Everyone can learn to tell his or her story better.
4. Everyone’s story will evolve.
5. Storytelling is every person’s access to creativity.
6. There is a reciprocal relationship between listening and telling.

These are among the key components of the WHAT of storytelling. The much greater value of Murray Nossel’s material is to be found in his explanation of the HOW, including both dos and don’ts. Some of his most helpful ideas are in the PRESENTATION section (Pages 200-205) and best revealed within the narrative, in context. The five “Presentation Rules of Thumb,” for example, and his emphasis on the importance of practice.

For those who read it with appropriate care, this book demonstrates precisely what effective communications are…and how they can help to achieve success, whatever the strategic objective(s) may be.

Those who share my high regard for this book are encouraged to check out two of Carmine Gallo’s: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (2009) and Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds (2014).


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