Lead with a story by Paul Smith #MRIA15 #MRX


MRIA15,MRIA2015Live blogged from the 2015 MRIA National Conference in Toronto. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

Lead with a Story, by Paul Smith

  • Paul Andrew SmithHe doesn’t mean just tell a story to start your presentation
  • They asked jurys how to improve the deliberation process. It had nothing to do with the food. It was all about the shape of the table. Rectangle tables led to quicker but less fair deliberation because whoever was at the end of the table ended up speaking the most. It was a very easy thing to fix and cheap. They asked to change all rectangle tables to round tables. However, the judge asked for all round tables to be changed for rectangle tables because that made the deliberation faster. He didn’t care that round tables led to better deliberation. Researchers regretted being part of this because it didn’t make the world a better place.
  • Why tell stories?
  • Simple – everyone can do it, timeless, demographic proof – no one is immune to a good story, contagious – if you tell a great story it will travel all around the world on its own without being pushed, easy to remember though you won’t remember this list of six things are tomorrow morning, inspirational stories but slides aren’t so inspirational
  • Make fewer powerpoint slides and tell more stories
  • Storytelling isn’t a great management tool for financial analysis or business plans, but it is great for leadership. If you feel like you are leading people, then you need to be telling stories.
  • In 1983, market saturation of diapers occurred. Completely changed the high relationship between sales and profit – sell more diapers and profits will happen. But that all stopped in 1983. He used two slides to show this relationship and he never need recommendations or conclusions slides. He let the audience figure out the reason and then the audience decided on their recommendations. Those recommendations were implemented almost immediately because they discovered the recommendations themselves. He stopped right before the big aha and gave the gift of the visceral moment to them.
  • What does a story look like? Beginning, middle, end is what a kid would say. A filmmaker would say six stages – set up, catalyst, turning point, climax, final confrontation, resolution. Cognitive psychiatrist would add more stages.
  • In business world, you have three minutes to deliver your story. You need the shortest structure that works for you. The ten year old kid was right.
  • Context, action, result are the beginning, middle, end.
  • We usually skip or butcher the where, when, who is the hero, what does hero want, who is in the way. We miss credibility, relatable, worthy, relevant.
  • Audience needs to see themselves in the hero. It shouldn’t be a story about superman or a football hero because people can’t relate to him. It’s entertaining but I can’t fly and I can’t throw a football like that. You need a villain your audience can relate to, a worthy objective, a relevant change.
  • Appeal to emotion – humans make subconscious. A story is fact plus emotion.
  • Most stories go untold because people don’t realize the value in them. When you feel something happening, a great story is about to be born or last forever.
  • Element of surprise – at the beginning, it gets the audience to pay attention. At the end, it seals the lesson in your memory.
  • People always remember the facts differently. You need to take facts with a grain of salt.
  • Example of a relevant surprise

  • Example of a not relevant surprise – what does releasing wolves on a marching band have to do with computer parts?

  • you can create relevant surprises. without one vital piece of information from the beginning of the story and move it to the end.

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