There is a big difference between assertions and stories when it comes to impact, comprehension and memorability.
Most business talk is full of assertions and opinions. These can sound very impressive but they are hard to understand and remember. To an audience, these often just sound like blah, blah, blah.
To get your message to stick it’s important to help your audience to see what you are talking about and to feel it.
Here are two audio examples.
The first makes an important business point using a series of assertions. Listen to this 70 second audio:
Reflect on what you just heard. What do you remember? What does it mean to be more approachable?
This second piece of audio makes exactly the same point using a business story. It runs for 77 seconds.
Reflect on what you heard in this second piece of audio. What do you remember? What does it mean to be more approachable?
The danger with assertions is that they are abstract: there are many possible interpretations of what you mean.
For example, if I asked 20 people to write down what it meant to be more approachable, based solely on the first piece of audio. Chances are I would get a lot of different answers.
However, business examples are more specific. If I tell 20 people the story version and then ask them to write down what it means to be more approachable, there is likely to be far less variability in their responses.
Stories (examples) are a powerful way to increase the extent to which people understand exactly what you mean.
One of the best ways to improve communications in organisations is to find specific examples that illustrate the points you want to make.
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:
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