A Quick Formula to Tell the Best Stories

Posted by David Grossman on Mon, Mar 01, 2021

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Tell Stories With a Purpose

Sometimes leaders get so caught up with grabbing an audience’s attention that they miss the point. For instance, a personal anecdote is great but only if it connects to what you’re trying to communicate. In other words: It doesn’t really matter if your son won the state high school basketball tournament unless his game-winning shot says something about what your company team needs to do every day.

Include a Moral to Every Story

I sum up this advice with leaders in a simple way: Wrap up your story with this comment: “I share this story because…” If you have a hard time with this statement, then your story doesn’t have a moral, and thus shouldn’t be shared with your team.

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Strategic Storytelling 

We’ve worked with scores of leaders over the years to help them craft stories from their personal lives that connect to the vision, mission and strategy of their organizations. 

Here is one great example of a story a CEO developed to motivate his team: 

“My wife and I are remodeling a home we thought had great potential, but it needed more work than we originally thought; we needed to tear it down to the studs and rebuild. The whole experience reminds me of our work in a consumer-focused business. It was wonderful five years ago, but is now suffering from deferred maintenance. When we’re done fixing it, we’ll feel great because we’re all in it together. I share this story because I want us to never give up on making our business better, no matter how hard it may seem today.” 

CONTEXT: My wife and I bought a house that needed remodeling. We knew it could be great. 

CHARACTERS: My wife and I 

CONFLICT: The house turned out to need more remodeling than we expected. 

MORAL: The whole experience reminds me of our work in a consumer-focused business. It was wonderful five years ago, but is now suffering from deferred maintenance. When we’re done fixing it, we’ll feel great because we’re all in it together. I share this story because I want us to never give up on making our business better, no matter how hard it may seem today. 

How do you strategically develop your stories to motivate your team?

—David Grossman


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Tags: Storytelling

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    Leadership and communications expert, David Grossman shares high-level tips on leadership effectiveness, internal communications, employee engagement, and a variety of other topics on the minds of leaders and communicators.

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