Story Time

Imagine someone asks you how to do something you’re brilliant at.  Obviously, you know how to respond.  After all, it’s something you’re brilliant at.

You could just give the answer.  That would make sense.

Instead, you tell a story.  You explain how you started learning to be brilliant years ago.  Your humble beginnings would have never led you to expect things turning out the way they did.  You throw in a joke about the biggest decision you had to make as you were developing your skill.

In the end, you don’t explicitly answer the question.  But the person who asked you walks away happier than they would be had you simply stated the answer.

Storytelling is powerful.

original photo by Sepulture

original photo by Sepulture

I’ve read countless times how good writing comes through telling stories and I love telling stories when I’m with others.

I know I don’t tell enough stories when I write here, so I must try harder. Good writing comes through telling stories because you’re expressing as opposed to explaining.  The expression does enough explaining and it’s memorable too.

Stefan at Study Successful posted an awesome piece on answering another person’s question with a story.  A story can work so much better than an answer. He explains:

“When you are giving the answer, you won’t help those people. You will help them right now, but you won’t help them in the long term. In about two weeks, they will come to you again, with the same type of question. You can’t answer the same question to the same people over and over again, there needs to be a long term solution. So, tell a story instead.”

This is a great point.  A book of facts is just a book of facts.  Hard to remember, boring, lifeless.

Shape those facts inside an anecdote and the information is suddenly memorable, exciting, alive.

How about incorporating a story in a presentation?  As you see, a bit of entertaining academia can go a long way!

Not every question needs a tale in reply. However, for someone to relate fully to a problem, a story works wonders.  You help out when you offer information, but you inspire when you give that information a reference point to associate with.

5 comments

  1. Inspire people instead of helping them, and maybe you help them even more!

    You are completely right. A story is something you will remember, the lesson within the story will be rememberd if you remember the story. Facts will fade away when they are not that important.

    Thanks for the mention Martin.

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