leader's guide to storytelling

Review – The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative

 Introduction

Storytelling is a powerful means of communication within organizations. This is the premise of the “Leader’s Guide to Storytelling”.
 
Stephen Denning has crafted this book on the following hypotheses. Organizations tend to favor the quantitative & analytical. While this approach favors the reasoning part of our minds, it is poor at changing our emotions. Storytelling make communication by mixing the analytical and the emotional. Storytelling, in this context, deals with working in professional organizations.
 
The author, Stephen Denning, is a person who has written a few books on story-telling. I happened to read this book as part of a “Leadership Development” program in my organization.
 
The “Leader’s Guide to Storytelling has three parts. It starts off with an introduction to storytelling. Then, there are chapters devoted to various narrative patterns. The book ends by linking the storytelling virtues with innovation & effective leadership.
 
The author talks about storytelling in the short video linked below. http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxHogeschoolUtrecht-Steve-Den
 

Recommendation

The ideas presented in “Leader’s Guide to Storytelling” are novel and thought provoking. The book is let down , ironically, by the mediocre communication of its core ideas.
 
In the end, I felt that reading this book was a chore and I had to force myself to read it in chunks. Very few books can claim to have that distinction. Hence I would warn people to be prepared for a struggle if you want to get some value from the book.
 

Learnings

  • Storytelling mixes the quantitative and qualitative aspects of communication. This makes it more effective than presenting facts or figures.
  • Different purposes need different types of stories.
  • The four key elements of effective storytelling are
    • Style – Tell your story as if you were talking to an individual. Avoid hedges and keep your storytelling focused, simple and clear. Present the story as something valuable in itself, be yourself.
    • Truth – proceed on the basis that it is possible to tell the truth, tell the truth as you see it.
    • Preparation – be rehearsed but spontaneous, choose the shape of your story and stick to it.
    • Delivery – Be ready to perform. Get out from behind the podium and connect with all parts of your audience. Speak in an impromptu manner, use gestures and be lively. Use visual aids judiciously. Be comfortable in your own style. Know your audience and, connect with them
  • There are 8 narrative patterns
    • Motivate others to action
    • Build trust in you
    • Build trust in your company
    • Transmit your values
    • Get others working together
    • Share knowledge
    • Tame the grapevine
    • Create and share your vision
    • Generally, organization issues will involve using multiple narrative patterns to solve them

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