The Power of Storytelling: 10 Authoritative Perspectives

Charles Dickens

My guess (only a guess) is that whenever a list of the greatest storytellers throughout history is compiled, Charles Dickens would be among those included.  The creative talents of other novelists (notably Balzac and Dostoevsky) are probably ranked higher but I think Dickens’ skills with setting a scene, introducing characters and their conflicts, and then developing a compelling plot, are unsurpassed.

In recent years, we have seen the emergence of business fables (notably those of Eliyahu Goldratt and Patrick Lencioni) that demonstrate those same components of storytelling during superb explanations of major business concepts and principles. We have also seen several other authors (notably Doug Lipman, Annette Simmons, and Stephen Denning) who have written books in which they explain how to use these components when formulating various formal and informal presentations. What we have in Paul Smith’s recently published book, Lead with a Story, is an expert guide to “crafting business narratives that captivate, convince, and inspire.”  Here are ten brief excerpts from his book:

o  “Experience is the best teacher. A compelling story is a close second.”  Paul Smith

o  “Every great leader is a great story teller.”  Howard Gardner

o  “While problems can be summarized in a formula or an algorithm, it takes a story to understand a dilemma. The future will be loaded with dilemmas, so it will take a lot of stories to make sense of them.”  Bob Johansen

o  “There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave: the one you practiced, the one you delivered, and the one you wish you gave.”  Dale Carnegie

o  “Human beings master the basics of storytelling as young children and retain this capability throughout their lives.”  Stephen Denning

o  “’We value integrity,’ means nothing. But tell a story about a former empl9yee who hid his mistake and cost the company thousands, or a story about a salesperson who owned up to a mistake and earned so much trust her company doubled his order, and you begin to teach an employee what integrity means.”  Annette Simmons

o  “If people aren’t laughing at your ideas, you aren’t being creative enough.”  David Armstrong

o  “Storytelling has proven a powerful tool. It has re moved the language barrier between the science of research and the language of business.”  Christopher J. Frank

o  “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures.”  George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

o  “People are going to tell stories about you whether you want them to or not. Choose which ones they tell.”  Bob McDonald

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