Guber¶s article is less compelling than these, but he does bring the credibility of having headed several entertainment

companies and having produced movies including Rain Man, Batman, and The Color Purple. Here, he explains that if stories are to captivate listeners, they must be true to the teller, true to the audience, true to the moment, and true to the mission. At the outset, Guber wishes to dispel two common misconceptions about storytelling among businesspeople: The belief that it¶s purely about entertainment, and that storytelling conflicts with authenticity. On the contrary, he says, storytelling has long been used to instruct and lead, and great storytelling ³is always built on the integrity of the story and its teller.´ The first of four kinds of truth found in an effective story is that it must be true to the teller, embodying his or her deepest values and conveying them with candor. The storyteller must be congruent with his story, which includes showing and sharing emotion. This is not easy, however, since it often requires being vulnerable. But only by willingly exposing anxieties, fears, and shortcomings can the storyteller allow listeners to identify with him, thereby bringing them ³to a place of understanding and catharsis, and ultimately spurs action.´ The second kind of truth is truth to the audience. This involves fulfilling the promise of respecting the scarcity of the audience¶s time. The storyteller must take time to understand what his listeners know about, care about, and want to hear. This implies trying your story out on people who aren¶t already converts, to get a realistic sense of how your real audience might respond; identifying your audience¶s emotional needs and meeting them with integrity; telling your story in an interactive fashion, so people will feel they¶ve participated in shaping the story experience; and recognizing that how the audience physically responds to the storyteller is an integral part of the story and its telling²especially at the story¶s ending. The storyteller must also be careful to be true to the moment by appropriately matching the context so that the story sounds different each time. At the same time, the story should be flexible enough to allow for improvisation. This may seem paradoxical, yet ³intensive preparation and improvising are two sides of the same coin.´ Finally, effective stories are true

to the mission, conveying the teller¶s passion for the worthy endeavor that the story illustrates and enlisting support for it.

A well-told story's power to captivate and inspire people has been recognized for thousands of years. Peter Guber is in the business of creating compelling stories: He has headed several entertainment companies --including Sony Pictures, PolyGram, and Columbia Pictures--and produced Rain Man, Batman, and The Color Purple, among many other movies. In this article, he offers a method for effectively exercising that power. For a story to enrapture its listeners, says Guber, it must be true to the teller, embody ing his or her deepest values and conveying them with candor; true to the audience, delivering on the promise that it will be worth people's time by acknowledging listeners' needs and involving them in the narrative; true to the moment, appropriately matching the context--whether it's an address to 2,000 customers or a chat with a colleague over drinks --yet flexible enough to allow for improvisation; and true to the mission, conveying the teller's passion for the worthy endeavor that the story illustrates a nd enlisting support for it. In this article, Guber's advice--distilled not only from his years in the entertainment industry but also from an intense discussion over dinner one evening with storytelling experts from various walks of life --is illustrated with numerous examples of effective storytelling from business and elsewhere. Perhaps the most startling is a colorful anecdote about how Guber's own impromptu use of storytelling, while standing on the deck of a ship in Havana harbor, won Fidel Castro's grudging support for a film project.

The Four Truths of Corporate Storytelling

Hard-nosed executives think ¶storytelling¶ dilutes their message. They see it as µacting¶, as being somehow less than authentic with an audience. Nothing is further from the truth.

So gather round people wherever you roam; draw closer; are you sitting comfortably? Then I¶ll begin. This is a tale of a filmmaker, Peter Gruber, whose really good article in the December Harvard Business Review reveals the Four Truths of the Storyteller. Obviously, the corporate storyteller has nothing to do with the Gandalf figure above, or the µnighty -night¶ bedtime stories we tell our children when they go Up The Wooden Hills to Bedfordshire. No. But there¶s a lot of this cultural baggage around µtelling stories¶ that the exec utive communicator needs to overcome. Gruber is an experienced executive and filmmaker (he produced The Color Purple and Midnight Express) ideally situated to distill the essence of good storytelling into a business setting. His HBR article does this by discussing Four Truths. One: Truth to the Teller Authenticity is crucial for the storyteller. His story must be congruent with his tongue, feet and wallet. He must show and share emotion. This requires vulnerability, or what my friend Lee Glickstein calls relational presence. The good news is you can practice being in relationship just like you practice your golf swing. And people on a podium who don¶t

practice this as often as they should are as embarrassing as any duffer on the green. Gruber tells us that the main challenge for the corporate storyteller is to appeal to the listener¶s emotions as well as their logical minds: He must enter the hearts of his listeners, where their emotions live, even as the information he seeks to convey rents space in their brains. One way to connect is to use what ad-meister Roy H. Williams calls Magic Words: Learn to choose words whose unconscious associations will accelerate your message: ³I stepped into lemon sunshine that was vivid, startling and bright.´ In that short sentence, one tart word, ³lemon,´ added the sparkle. Had I written, ³I stepped into the bright yellow sunshine of a summer¶s day,´ the oatmeal droning of an unthinking writer would have only just begun. Two: Truth to the Audience Gruber counsels executives to research the audience and understand what his listeners know about, care about, and want to hear. Beyond presenting facts that will satisfy the intellectual needs of a particular crowd, the speaker must, again, get the emotional arc right. One way to do this is tell the story in an interactive fashion helping people see themselves as the hero of the story. Make the µI¶ in your story become the µwe¶. Three: Truth to the Moment This moment is different from any before and this different it¶s now. moment is

The Incredible String Band ± This Moment

Never tell a story the same way twice. The context is always part of the story. The challenge, especially for a CEO, is to tell the same story over and over again and make it sound fresh each time.

Jack Welch does not mince words when recalling what a challenge this is: Like every goal and initiative we¶ve ever launched, I repeated the No. 1 or No. 2 message over and over again until I nearly gagged on the words. I tried to sell both the intellectual and emotional cases for doing it. (Jack: Straight from the Gut, p. 109) Four: Truth to the Mission The job of the corporate storyteller is to capture the mission in a story that evokes powerful emotions and wins the assent and support of his listeners. In Summary What makes a good presentation? It¶s something beyond the PowerPoint your graphics wizards can cook up. It¶s beyond the facts your investor relations and corporate communications department can load you up with. It¶s beyond the supporting videos and carefully orchestrated cameo appearances your marketing and PR guys fund. At the end of the day it¶s as simple as your ability to tell a story. Are you sitting comfortably

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful