January, 2013 | Published by Anecdote - Putting Stories to Work.
Happy New Year from all the team here at Anecdote.
We hope you had a wonderful break and that 2013 has started successfully for you, and continues that way.
We're certainly off to a flying start.
One of the things we're hoping for this year, and intend to focus lots of effort on, is getting out and meeting lots more people. That includes, reaching out and talking to people who follow our work via this newsletter and our blog. Pssst, that's you!
You'll notice in this newsletter, we've already starting planning some ways to do that.
Firstly, we're running more public workshops this year, to not only give people a chance to get some real hands-on experience of our programs, but to provide more opportunities to meet people. For our international followers, we're offering this online in a webinar format.
We're also contacting people directly to introduce ourselves and explore opportunities to catch up and talk more about how we might help develop your, or their organisational storytelling and leadership capabilities. Don't be surprised if you receive a phone call. In the meantime, If you'd like to catch up then please email us.
We're looking forward to a great year ahead, and making these connections.
We hope that you enjoy reading Anecdotally. Feel free to pass this email on to your colleagues and friends if you think that they would enjoy it too.
Please contact us with your comments, suggestion and ideas.
One way to finish a story
One of the hardest things to do, especially in an informal setting, is to finish a story well. Here is a one suggestion on how to do it.
Your story hasn’t really been heard until people reflect on what was said, so finish your story with a question to get your listeners talking about it.
You might ask, “So, what does that story mean to you?” or “What do you think are some of the significant lessons of that story?”. Or you could prompt them to share a similar experience they have had: “Did that story trigger any memories from your past?”
This is the complete opposite of finishing a story by telling the listener the moral of the story. In this way they are; (1) working out for themselves, and (2) likely to take something extra from the story than what you imagined.
As Hannah Arendt once said; “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”
We hope to see you at one of these workshops and help you build your storytelling skills.
Storytelling for Leaders - Webinars
Over the holidays, we've been thinking about how we can engage with the international audience who follow our work via our monthly newsletter and blog.
Whilst we've had the occasional opportunity to run our workshops around the globe, we don't get the chance to do it as often as we'd like, and reach out to a broader audience.
So, we thought it would be worthwhile to offer a version of our popular Storytelling for Leaders workshop online, lead by the Founder of Anecdote, Shawn Callahan.
We're hoping you will join us for a webinar to see how working with stories can help you and your leaders to influence, build engagement and inspire people to take action.
The webinar will be an interactive, with a mixture of presentation, scattered with the opportunity to ask questions.
It will teach you how to tap into the power of storytelling in three ways:
Communication – how to get your message to stick
Influence and persuasion – how to change behaviour
Insight and empowerment – how to understand what's really going on
You'll continue to receive value after this event. We'll send you a FREE copy of the first module (Continuing to build your story-spotting skills) from our Storytelling for Leaders Deliberate Practice Program.
One of the things we've learnt over the years, is that providing food and drink is one of the best ways to influence and change the dynamics of a group meeting. Along with the physical environment, it is one of the most important factors in getting people to open up and to make them feel relaxed and comfortable to share their stories.
We always kick-off our Leadership program with an informal gathering for dinner and drinks the evening before we run any workshops or group sessions. It makes a real difference to the strength of relationships, both between us and participants, and with each other, and to how willing and prepared they are to work together during the rest of the program.
During one of our projects with a large electricity supplier, we were collecting stories from front-line supervisors about good and bad communication in their organisation, to find what worked and what didn't.
In one of the Anecdote Circles a supervisor provided us with an example of what he did to engage his team and encourage effective communication. He told us, "We have a saying in our team; 'we don't meet unless we eat'". This was greeted with rapturous applause from others in the room. This reaction (and story) has really stuck with us.
We've all seen and experienced the benefits of sharing meals first-hand and the type of dynamic that it helps create, but it was interesting to discover that this has also been backed up by research.
Gregory Razran described this principle in 1938 1. Using what he termed the "luncheon technique," he found that statements rated during eating a meal increase significantly in approval. In other words, his subjects became fonder of the people and things they experience while they were eating.
How could you use this knowledge to make your next meeting more impactful? Perhaps you could provide refreshments, or go out for a coffee instead of meeting in that poorly lit, drab meeting room in the office?
: Razran, G.H.S. (1938). Conditioning Away Social Bias by the Luncheon Technique, Psychological. Bulletin, 35, 693
If you read this blog there is a good chance you firmly believe in the power of stories. You might have also come to the conclusion, like I have, that it's mighty hard to find stories when you need them. A better strategy is to collect stories when they're told, index them and be able to re-find them when they are needed (see how Joan Rivers does it). You can check out Zahmoo as a way to keep track of your stories.
For this strategy to work you need to be places where stories are told. Better still, you need to create the conditions for stories to be told.
Here are five conditions that are important for stories to be told.
A caring listener. The person listening to the stories cares about and is interested in them. People have a finely tuned sense of whether others care about what they are saying and if they detect disdain or even a little boredom they'll truncate their stories or just stop altogether.
Free time. Remember those times when you had a long road trip with a friend or colleague and the stories you heard. Stories seem to emerge when we are not under pressure or constrained by formality. Loose meeting agendas are more likely to encourage stories than highly structured gatherings.
Common ground. A while back I called my brother. He lives in Arizona. He's a wine salesman (a bloody good one) and he was telling me what a talented sales manager he has. I asked him to share an example of what this talented guy did. My brother hesitated. In fact he kept giving me high level descriptions rather than a story. Then I realised I didn't share his wine sales rep knowledge and might not appreciate (or get) his story. So I said, "just pretend I'm an experienced wine guy." He then shared a great example. Common knowledge and language is needed at some level before stories are shared.
Tell stories. Stories beget stories. One of the best ways to encourage someone to share a story is to tell one yourself.
Memorabilia. One of my most enjoyable projects involved helping an energy company collect stories from retiring specialists. One was Mike, the network controller. His job was to keep tabs on the entire electricity grid and solve problems as they happened. His office was filled with maps, computer screens and whiteboards filled with notes and sketches. Storytelling was easy for him. He would grab a map of the grid and tell me the story of how a substation went down and how they fixed it. Unfortunately Mike retired before we had finished the story collection but he invited me to his home a couple of months after retiring to finish the job. We were in his lounge room with pictures of his family on the wall and keepsakes from overseas trips on shelves. When we got started I quickly discovered he struggled to tell me his work stories and when he did have one they weren't as rich with detail as the ones from his office. Picking places and artefacts that remind people of their stories can make all the difference.
Storytelling for Sales - launching our latest offering
At the end of the day, we are all looking for better ways to sell.
This means better ways to build relationships with our clients, to understand their needs and to communicate our products and services with impact. We all want to stand out from our competitors.
Anecdote has just launched our Storytelling for Sales Program to develop participants story skills to do exactly that.
We know that stories are engaging, we tell them informally and people listen, they ‘get’ what we are saying and they remember it. Yet few people in business systematically harness the natural power of stories to sell.
Our Storytelling for Sales program shows participants how to use storytelling to create connection with, understand needs better and communicate clearer with your clients.
Everyone involved in selling faces similar challenges. These include the need to:
Build rapport and make a connection
Develop trust and lasting relationships that can survive even the tough times
Understand their clients and the challenges and opportunities they face
Explain and bring to life increasingly complex products and offerings
Great sales people are great storytellers. But we often assume this a natural gift that you either have, or you don’t.
It’s not the case. We can all use the natural power of stories to sell.
Anecdote’s Storytelling for Sales program shows you exactly how.
To find out more about the program, and to make the most of our 'Program Launch' pricing (which is only available for a limited time), please contact us .