The power of a well-told story

Steve DenningAnnette Simmons, and Doug Lipman have written brilliant books on the subject of storytelling; more specifically, about how to write an effective business narrative.

It is worth noting that CBS’s 60 Minutes is the longest running prime-time television show in history. In fact, its #1 ranking for five consecutive years has been equaled only by All in the Family and The Cosby Show. Its creator and producer, Don Hewitt, once explained the reason for its success: “Even the

Don Hewitt

people who wrote the Bible were smart enough to know: Tell them a story. The issue was evil; the story was Noah. I latched on to that.” The title of the memoirs that Hewitt later published is Tell Me a Story.

Storytelling is universal. Our ancestors covered their caves with the PowerPoint presentations of their time: the images they painted to tell stories about the hunt. Then and now, we need stories; a story is a single coherent whole out of a lot of parts. Aesop, Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Confucius, and the followers of the Buddha all knew it; every religion has memorable stories at its center.

How to get into and then capture people’s hearts and souls? Hewitt answered with a simple strategy that today’s most successful companies follow every day: “At 60 Minutes, we do what everyone should be doing: Tell me a story. Learn to do that well and you’ll be a success.”

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