A Story About Storytelling

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

Ralph recently died, unexpectedly. We were inseparable friends in elementary school, junior high school and into high school. I spoke with Ralph at our most recent High School Class Reunion, just three months before he passed away.

Reading his obituary, I saw that Ralph had a daughter and a son. I wrote to Julie and John, telling them about my friendship with their Dad, and offered to share my recollections of his early years. Then, a lightbulb went off for me!

There were many others who knew Ralph in his younger years, and they too could relate their stories about him to Julie and John. But only I could tell them about the Ralph I knew, from my unique perspective of our relationship and some of our adventures.

I experienced first-hand the power of storytelling. I saw how, through telling a personal story, Ralph’s children listened intently to my words. They seemed to look through me in a direct connection to a part of their Dad’s life they couldn’t have known. Tears flowed freely, and three people who had never before met, connected profoundly through the power of stories.

What does this have to do with business? Before Ralph died, I was working with some folks at Pixar Animation Studios to bring practical storytelling skills to the business community. If you’re selling a product or service, if you want to convince your colleagues or leaders about an idea, or if you simply want to entertain, I’m not sure there’s a better way of connecting with people than good storytelling.

We all tell stories, naturally, and we’ve done it from a very young age. Our brains are hardwired to think and express ourselves in terms of a beginning, middle and end. It’s how we understand the world.

With a little help, some tools and some confidence, you can learn to develop and tell stories that capture the minds and hearts of your audiences. When you begin to see yourself as a storyteller, you’re on your way to becoming a great communicator.

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