How To Enchant An Audience and Move Them to Do Something New

Getting people to listen in today’s world is no small task. But the good news is we all want to be captivated by something or someone. We want to listen. And, because of this desire, the rise of storytelling in the organizational world has reached new
heights.

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of man, evolving from cave drawings and tales around a campfire to great literature and Academy-award winning films. Stories are meant to produce an altered state of consciousness, and when done well are rewarded. The prize is the “story trance,” enchanting someone, taking them on a journey and leading them to someplace new in their minds.

Human beings crave this trance.

We watch television and read books. We get on airplanes and watch movies because we want to be taken away and forget our feet have gone numb. We go online and watch YouTube videos hoping to be captivated and see something we didn’t know before. We go to the theatre to watch (or download!) films and we pray that the movie is so good we lose sense of the boundaries of the screen and the people around us.

We’re constantly searching for something that will absorb us, suspend time, and take us somewhere else.

It is steeped in emotion, which is why the corporate world may have been slower to adopt this communication technique. But, there isn’t time to do anything else in today’s unreliable climate.

As business and non-profit leaders seek to motivate in an unmotivated world, they would do well to learn the craft of storytelling. For when it’s done well, people forget their own immediate agenda and are brought into another one. A great storyteller tells how someone or some group of people have changed – and it helps them feel like they could change, too. In other words, do things differently. And, from government to business from nonprofits to academia, organizations probably could stand to to be doing some things differently right now.

The Death of a Message: Parsing and Politics

 

There is nothing like watching a presidential run to see the best — and worst — of messaging. Let’s examine the brouhaha over presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s gaffe around saying how he “likes to fire” people. What he actually said to the Nashua, N.H. Chamber of Commerce audience that fateful morning was this:

“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I want to say, ‘You know, I’m going to get someone else to provide this service to me.’”

But, naturally the news (not to mention his opponents) jumped all over the “I like to” part. Anyone who likes to fire a person from a job doesn’t sound like someone we want to know, right?

But, if you see his full message, it makes sense. After all he was talking to an audience of people who have likely had to fire someone in their business.

But, here is the thing about messages. They can be parsed. A presidential candidate should know better. A business leader should also know this little fact. If it can be taken out of context, it probably will be.

Be careful when sharing an exciting soundbite that requires two or three more sentences to explain. The odds of your scintillating statement being taken out of context is high – even inside a small organization. People talk. And, they like to repeat things that are exciting. Make sure your electrifying message – especially one that is supposed to show off your character or how you might do something in the future — makes sense to not only who are speaking to immediately, but to anyone else who might hear it.

 

Note: Four Leaf PR is non partisan. We are not formally backing a presidential candidate.

How About A New Year’s Resolution Related To Word Choices?

Happy New Year! ‘Tis the season to make new resolutions to bring about positive change in our lives, right? How about a language overhaul for starters? There are three words that I use fairly often but which I going to try to strike from my vocabulary in 2012. They are:

Busy. How often do you answer the question, how are you? with the word “busy?” Aren’t we all? This answer basically says you have more to do than you believe you have time to do it. But, I believe it causes a self fulfilling prophecy. What would life be like if you didn’t think you had too little time? Besides, the word “busy” isn’t very interesting. And, therein lies the second word I am going to attempt to abandon in the new year.

Interesting. What does this word say, really? I believe we use it when we have nothing else to say. So, why use it at all? Searching for a suitable substitute is not only good for the mind, but also will make our speech more precise. And, it might make you more interesting in reality.

“Like” (the valley girl version). I am ashamed to admit (as any adult should be) that this word has crept into my speech far too often. Like, I have such an interesting and busy life that I am just so, like, amazed, right? I am astounded at how many adults — even in corporate boardrooms – say this in the middle of their sentences. It doesn’t add anything of substance. I say adding “like” is the mark of someone who is not paying enough attention to how they speak.

What words are you committed to eliminating from your everyday conversations?