Humans are hard-wired for stories

November 22, 2009

Last friday I gave a talk about worksimplification.   We talked what it is and how it is done.
The second part was about why we could do worksimplification.

I had seen Michael video (link below) a couple of days before and I took the experiment to tell some stories about competition. I used the story of the bear.  (Thanks Raf for pointing that one out).
I worked out extremely well.  Got great feedback on the storytelling piece.

One of the participants told me, you painted the picture about the two guys been chased by the bear in my head.  I will not forget it when I think about competition.

If a story is used well it get people into action and it will be more than entertainment. The story can be a catalist for action.

I think that Michael has a point that humans are hard-wired for storytelling.

Humans are hard-wired for storytelling from Michael Margolis on Vimeo.

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Look for the right story

November 16, 2009

People think in stories, talk in stories, communicate in stories, even dream in stories Stephen Denning

Stephen is an expert on organisational storytelling and compilled in ‘The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling’ a storytelling catalog.The leader's guide

His 8 different narative patterns :

  • Sparkling Action = springboard story
  • Communicating who you are
  • Communicating who the Company is – Branding
  • Transmitting Values
  • Fostering Collaboration
  • Taming the Grapevine
  • Sharing Knowledge
  • Leading People into the Future

Depending on your successful result you need to choose a different pattern to look for your much needed story.

As an example :  when you need people to take action, start looking for stories that have these elements :

  • Change idea = crystal clear
  • A true story
  • A single protagonist who is typical for the audience
  • Date and place
  • Positive tone
  • Linked to the purpose to be achieved telling

Look how Obama is mastering the springboard story technique


Gap the Mind with humor and curiosity

September 30, 2009

Two adds which use the same tool to grab our attention and to keep it till the end of the message.

Which add is more effective? More effective in getting the message across?

The first one ?

Or the other one?

In my mind the Pepsi is more effective. Both the adds use humor and curiosity. Curiosity is a powerfull tool in keeping our attention. It creates open loops in your mind. Open loops which you want to close.
The Pepsi add uses humor to reinforce the message and it closes the loop in your mind with an image that underlines the message.


SUCCESs starts with simplicity

September 21, 2009
6 days ago I made a presentation on simplicity in a contagious communication.

Much to my surprise it got watched 186 times in 6 days.

I got a couple of questions to add some concrete tools.

I made some adjustements and uploaded it again.

SUCCESs in contagious communication : Simplicity
View more presentations from jodha.

Make sandwiches very visual and create curiosity

September 16, 2009

niet-zonder-vorkThis is a picture I got from Richard.  Richard is at least a half day a week on the streets making pictures.  You can find every day a picture by him on his site.

You can’t eat our sandwiches without a fork.

What mental images do you get by reading this?  A huge plate with vegetables and other things?  It’s very hard not to imagine something when you read this sign.   At the same time it makes you as a reader curious.  It creates an open hole in your knowledge.   The good thing is that you can close that hole on the spot.  Our brain is wired to fill these holes.   Walk in and find out….

It combines concreteness, credibility and a bit of surprise.


Example from Life’s a Pitch

September 14, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I moved the the book Life’s a Pitch (Stephen Bayley & Roger Mavity) from my candidate booklist to my active booklist.Life's a Pitch

The book has great insights and great stories.

The next is story is from this book. It’s about Sir Gerry Robinson. He has been Chairman of the Arts Council and delivered a great pitch to Tony Blair.

His pitch is great because it simple, very concrete, emotional and credible.

The next is from the book p112

Gerry was choosen to run the Arts Council because the Blair Government thought the Council was badly and extravagantly managed, so they wanted a hard-headed businessman to get hold of it and cut the waste. But when Gerry studie dit, he quickly decided the arts needed more money not less. I asked him how he pitched this difficult case to the very people who had put him in place to recommend the opposite.

Gerry answered :

I had to point out that the problems weren’t just the inefficiencies, although there was some of that, but the arts were just ludicrously underfunded. Any civilized nation should fund the arts properly. I felt that it was a credible proposition for me to be saying that rather than someone from the arts world.
I just knew that the way to get the money was to point out that was needed, £200 million, was in real terms absolutely bugger all. I reminded them it was just about the cost of one F-11 jet.

Gerry used concreteness, surprise, emotion and credibility to be understood, remembered and to change behaviour.

The credibility didn’ t came from the message itself. It was Gerry who gave the credibility. If it had been somebody from the Arts Council and not a tough businessman the message would not have had credibility.
Gerry surprised Tony Blair. Blair expected to hear ideas for cuts inbudgets.
“Any civilized nation” is a great phrase for building identity. It creates emotion because who wants to be prime minister of a nation that is not that civil anymore.
Gerry used the concreteness for his audience. In order for Tony Blair to be able grasp the amount Gerry used an image from his world.