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Storytelling is a transferrable skill

October 2, 2012

I’d be a turrible, turrible President, but I wouldn’t be dull.

(The Florida Writers Association does not make political endorsements. I do, but former basketball player Charles Barkley isn’t running for President. This post is not an endorsement.)

Last week, when I had to give an impromptu presentation at work, my teammate rolled her eyes when I told I intended to tell a story. Storytelling isn’t something you talk a lot about when you give business presentations. But I structured the information I was conveying in such a way that it fit together with a unified theme. I went over the presentation in my mind, and when I delivered it, from beginning to end, I told a story.

I talked about the changes our team would work to implement, fitting them all together as a complementary set of items. Mostly I talked about how the rest of the department would benefit from each thing. I unified them and made them all fit. And I included the people listening to the story by talking about how our changes would benefit them. It was one of my better presentations.

Stories don’t have to be about characters. They don’t have to contain plot points and climaxes. A story can be any set of information woven together in a way that entices the audience.

I was also watching television this morning and saw the following ad for President Obama. Whether you agree with his politics or not, the ad is very effective, because he tells a story and he includes the people watching. He’s going to do four things and the people listening will benefit.

(A word about politics: This post isn’t about them. I happen to disagree with many of the President’s policies, but that doesn’t mean he can’t air an effective commercial, based around story telling. This ad is effective because Barack Obama stares you in the eye and tells you a story.)

In other words, your storytelling abilities are transferable skills. Telling a story works. It makes your presentations more effective. It grabs people’s attention, and it pulls them into the discussion. It works for business presentation, cover letters, and it could get you re-elected as president.

(I entered a contest once: First prize was one term as president; second prize was two terms.)

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