Read: Cover to Cover
Category: Communication, Marketing, Sales
I‘m not really big on the TV genre, reality shows, but I will admit to being hooked on The Voice (Mondays on NBC). It fits into a narrative I have long believed in – too much depends on our eyes, irrationally so. (There is a great book out there dealing with the subject, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). So, my enthusiasm for the show is three-fold. One is that the contestants are judged solely on their voice, and second is the absolutely stellar voices that come out of, seemingly, the great unwashed. But here comes the third, and I think one of the most important. Before they sing their big hearts out, contestants tell us a little story about who they are, what drives them, their ambitions and their family – essentially their backstory. All of them are heartfelt and come from an unscripted deep place. I empathize with their struggle in wanting what is seemingly so unreachable – making a career happen when the odds against them are so great. After I listen to them tell their story and they go on stage, I root for them. I can’t help it. I want them to succeed. I want those judges to turn their chairs around because I know it’s not only the singing I hear in their voices, but I know what it means to them. Without knowing their story, I can be a impartial observer. Sight. Sound. But knowing their story, well…that makes all the difference in the world. That’s what Peter Gruber calls “emotional transportation”. Audiences feel sympathy for characters whose struggles and concerns make them seem authentic and vulnerable. That’s the idea behind Peter Gruber’s book, although he’s a bit more pragmatic. He understands the power of the story. He understands that to motivate people to understand you, your idea or your product, you should tell a story. He says everyone, whether we know it or not, is in the emotional transportation business, and by creating compelling stories, we have the power to move customers, partners and stakeholders to action. The folks on The Voice tell really emotional, vulnerable stories- but Gruber insists that purposeful stories – created with a specific mission in mind is essential for persuading others to support your dream, vision, or cause can be just as powerful. He takes you through the formula for good storytelling – getting the listeners attention, give your listener’s an emotional experience by narrating a struggle to overcome a challenge and finally to galvanize your listener’s response with an eye-opening resolution that calls them to action. So, put away those powerpoint slides, your facts and figures, your mission statement, your canned elevator speech, your idea of what you’ve been told it takes to persuade your audience, and try telling a compelling story.
Too many of us in business have this idea (probably because we have seen it done over and over again) that the “correct” way to make a sales pitch to a client, or convince a customer about our service/idea/product, is to drag out prices, statistics, features and benefits as fast as we can, hoping something sticks. It happens from the get-go. “Hi my name is ……… and I’m with…………, a company that can provide you with the best…………… in the country. Let me tell you a little about the product that can change your business. Blah, Blah Blah. Oh…thanks anyway for your time.” The point of Gruber’s book for me, starts with the relationship build. And the quickest way to have your idea/product/service “stick,” is to emotionally transport them to a place of understanding, to let them “visualize” and remember you/your product/service/idea. People always seem to have time for an interesting story. When you tell a story, you engage, you don’t seem to be “selling” anything. We can all learn to tell good and relevant stories, and this book gives you the tools that can make you a good story teller so that you capture and inspire your audience, rather than bore them into submission.