Stories are powerful – we all know that. So powerful that, sometimes, a single example can overwhelm a wheelbarrow full of facts.
I came across an example of this in mid-2012. I was having lunch at a restaurant in Melbourne – reputedly the best laksa restaurant in town. I was meeting some of the people at the table for the first time, so the conversation got around to ‘so what do you do for a living?’
One guy was very interested when I explained that my work is in the field of business storytelling. He asked a few questions, but was pretty sarcastic about storytelling. He went on to explain that he was a member of the Victorian branch of the Australian Sceptics Society (their website describes them as “an evidence-based organisation run by volunteer members”).
He explained that he has done lots of research on acupuncture and can scientifically prove that there is no evidence that supports the contention that acupuncture works or even to support the existence of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) – the body’s energy field that is manipulated through acupuncture. He described the following experience:
There are clear business implications from this example. Facts are important, vital even, but on their own they are often insufficient to change people’s minds. But, you can amplify their impact and influence by wrapping your facts in an engaging example.
When preparing your next presentation, spend at least as much time finding relevant examples as you do getting the facts right and crafting your bullet points. You might be surprised at the impact you can have.
About Mark Schenk
Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on: