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Often me and my colleagues would sit and huddle around in a meeting room few days before a meeting to discuss the deck which we would present to the clients. A recurring question – what’s our story? what narrative are we building? And it wasn’t just some sidenote, it was really imperative to understand the core story that we would present to the client so that we can lead the discussion somewhere and draw conclusions at the end of the presentation.
A typical format would be: what’s the current situation/where do we stand now, followed by what the current problem looks like, followed by ways to solve that problem and where do Google solutions fit into that puzzle.
This approach did two things really well: one, it allowed us and the client to focus on a core set of issues, problems that we’re trying to address which kept the meetings on time as we inclined not to sway away from the core topics at hand and two, it made our pitch easier to digest for the client as he could clearly see where we came from and could address specific concerns in a streamlined fashion.
A must watch resource which I found while surfing for good resources on storytelling came from Ira Glass, an American radio public personality and host of the show The American Life.
Click here to view the 4 part video series: Ira Glass on Storytelling.
Ira makes a very compelling case of good storytelling to capture audience’s attention which is an absolute first if you’re looking to sell anything to anyone. I would strongly encourage you to watch the complete series (won’t take you more than 15 mins). Very briefly Ira makes 3 points, pointing out first that storytelling in essence in a sequence of events, one leading to the other, hinting at a oncoming destination. Second he mentions the importance of the ‘moment of reflection’, the point where we tell the viewer why is this story important for them to watch and third the importance of good taste in stories which can only be developed by dogged effort of going through lots and lots of stories in order to figure out which ones truly stand out.
Just how important stories are can be seen by this below quote from Wahoo Fitness telling how a compelling story convinced them to acquire a fitness app:
“We probably wouldn’t have considered buying your app if we hadn’t read the story”.
In the article here, Stuart K Hall, app developer of the popular fitness app ‘7 Minute Workout’ which got bought out by Wahoo Fitness makes the case how important it was for him to chronicle his journey of where he started from while developing the app as an experiment and how he ended up having more than 2.3 million downloads building a very profitable app in the process and getting acquired. Wahoo found out about ‘7 Minute Workout’ through one of these blogposts and it played an important role in convincing them to acquire 7 Minute Workout.
As per this study published by the American Psychological Association, building narratives as storylines a) listeners showed an augmented belief in the story presented and saw the protagonists favourably and b) more engaged story listeners found fewer faults in the story and these results were fairly unaffected by labelling the story either as a fact or fiction.
Another neuroeconomist Paul Zak notes, as per this article, that:
“What he found is that even the simplest narrative can elicit powerful empathic response by triggering the release of neurochemicals like cortisol and oxytocin”
Oxytocin, also known as the ‘trust hormone’, is what makes humans social and lets people trust each other. Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship including sales relationships.