Dynamic Communicators Are Good Story Tellers

Today is Thursday, so this post is on dynamic communication.

Jack Davis is a friend of mine.  Eight and a half years ago, he and his partner Rob Likoff created a paradigm shifting company, Group DCA.  Jack and Rob are veterans of the health care industry.  Their company was one of the first to offer web based marketing and promotion services to the healthcare industry.

Jack and I were speaking yesterday, and he mentioned that Group DCA now has 70 employees.  They have hired a professional manager to be the company’s President.  Group DCA is growing up.  It’s moving from being a free-wheeling entrepreneurial enterprise to one that has more structure.  This is a natural progression.  Monday’s Wall Street Journal had an article on Facebook who is going through a similar transition.

Jack was telling me about a recent company meeting.  He spent his portion of the agenda discussing the history of the company and how it came into being.  He told two stories.  The first revolved around his and Rob’s interest in reading and how it led to them becoming partners.  It seems that they were always sharing books with one another.  This book sharing led first to a friendship and then to a partnership.  Unlike many start-up companies, the friendship has survived the partnership.  More important, the book sharing story drove home the point that Group DCA is an idea based company.

The second story was about how they decided to join forces and go into business.  At the time, jack was President of a healthcare ad agency.  Rob was one of his clients.  One day, at a working session, they took a restroom break.  As they were walking to the restroom, one of them said, “We have some great ideas about how to use the internet in healthcare marketing.  Neither of the companies that we work for seem to get it.  Why don’t we start our own company.”  They finished their business, went back to Jack’s office and began planning the Group DCA launch.  This story highlights the risk taking nature and decisiveness of the two founders.

These are two great stories because they brought alive the company’s history to the 70 employees – most of whom had no idea of Group DCA’s roots.  Jack told the stories, and he said “You could see people’s eyes light up.  They saw how we were just two guys who had an idea and the courage to bring it to life.”

And that’s what I want to discuss today; the power of stories as a communication device.  Stories are powerful.  We all learn from them.  Jack made an interesting point.  The oral tradition predates writing by several thousand years.  Listening to stories to learn has become ingrained in our DNA.  I agree.

Tracy Kidder, a Pulitzer prize winning author, makes an interesting point about stories.  “All stories are local; all good stories are universal.”  In other words, stories tell the tale of one person’s or group of people’s experience – that’s the local part.  The learning point behind a good story transcends the immediate experience of the story and becomes a point that has a universal appeal.

I encourage my coaching clients to use stories as often as they can in their presentations.  Stories humanize the presenter, and they paint vivid word pictures for the listeners.  I am always looking at my life experiences to determine if they lend themselves to a story I can use to illustrate the points I make about career and life success.  My new book “Straight Talk for Success” is full of stories.

The common sense point is simple.  Stories are a great means of communication.  People retain ideas better when they are delivered by stories.  Creating a story is not difficult.  Here is what I coach my clients to do.  1) Think of something you “know to be true” about your topic.  2) Think of the life experiences (both good and bad) that have led you to this conclusion.  3) Distill these experiences into a narrative that you can relate easily.  4) Determine the universal point of the story.  5) Tell the story, and finish with “so what I’ve learned here is…”  If you create and use stories from your life experience, you’ll become a dynamic presenter.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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