Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Do You Believe in MAGIC?

If you are like me you’ve sat through training sessions and presentations where “death by PowerPoint” did little for the educational experience. Leaders who can share purposeful stories are invaluable. The power of storytelling is a tool that can help leaders convey information.

Jeremy Bennett provided a great blog post recently about students of fire such as Paul Gleason who developed storytelling into an art—an art that had huge impacts on those around them.

In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Peter Guber talks about the power of storytelling and provides great insight about its use as a leadership tool. Feel free to read the interview transcript or listen to the audio.

Storytelling is MAGIC

Guber believes that stories should have MAGIC.

M – You have to motivate.
A – Try to engage your audience emotionally, not intellectually.
G – All storytelling narrative is goal oriented.
I – All storytelling is interactive.
C – You have to have good content.

Helpful Hints

  • Storytelling is a tool that is used purposefully.
  • Practice pays off.
  • Move people’s hearts and emotions before you move their feet or their tongue.
  • Stories are often shared, often virally.

Word of Caution

A good story often “spreads like wildfire.” Therefore, storytellers must surrender control. Lt. Col. Eric Carlson shared the following quotes from Paul Tillich during the 2011 Gettysburg Staff Ride:

  • All history is remembered history.
  • The meaning of history lies beyond history.
  • There are two periods in history: one of preparation and one of expectation.

Tell your story with purposeful narrative and allow it to grow and impact your listeners. You may not affect everyone and the story may change from storyteller to storyteller, but most stories live on, relatively intact, long after the storyteller has gone on, impacting future generations through belief.

Additional storytelling references:

  • Denning. Stephen. The Leader's Guide to Storytelling. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2005.
  • Stories from the Fireline, blog post from June 17, 2010

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