A Sense of Story
My favorite CFO — I think of him as Ã¢â¬Åmy sometimes-irritating, little brother.Ã¢â¬Â you would, too, if you heard him say, Ã¢â¬ÅThis is the second iteration of my lunch.Ã¢â¬Â — says that I talk in stories and sound bytes.
When he says sound bytes, he means quick points, analogies, and metaphors. It’s a habit that I learned from my dad. I use stories, sound bytes, metaphors, and analogies because they make it easier to explain what I’m trying to say.
We get a sense of story when we are really small. Our parents tell us stories to teach things. We learn about our family and friends through stories. We watch stories that are movies and tell stories that really happened to us and other people.
Stories help us communicate for many reasons.
- People listen more closely to stories than they do to someone talking. People know a story has a point. Even more, a story has a beginning, middle, and an end -Ã¢â¬â and the end is usually satisfying. So we invest more in a story, because of the payoff at the end.
- Stories bring an overlay of meaning and memories. A story told now reminds us of stories we heard as children and what we enjoyed about them then. Any story I tell gets the benefit of any well-told story that came before it. I only have to make sure that my story is told well.
- Sound bytes, metaphors, and analogies offer quick information firmly packed. I can get a point across more quickly and more powerfully. On the day of the Famous Canoe Analogy had I said, Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s time to stop talking about the past.Ã¢â¬Â The words would have sounded an impatient opinion. Fewer words, some humor, and a shocking mental image was what got attention.
- Storytelling, sound bytes, and analogies work because they move the problem from literal to figurative. People can explore an idea or a situation and test plans of action, sloshing through muddy waters without splashing the personalities involved. After all, we’re only telling stories.
Stories, sound bytes, and analogies can be a kinder and
more expedient way to get a point across.
Who doesn’t like to hear a story that has a great ending? Like this one — that’s over now. . . . ?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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