If you are reading this you are probably into blogging, writing, business, or success. Or at least you want to learn more about it.
Well one of the important facets of communication is conveying your message in a way that the other person understands it. It should be inherently obvious that if someone doesn’t understand what you’ve said, you have failed to communicate with them.
Why Stories Work Better
All great communicators convey their messages with images and stories.
And they do this because we are hard wired to understand and appreciate and process stories better than raw information. They are more successful because stories do something that raw information fails to do. They bring our emotions into the equation.
When our emotions are included in the learning process we are better able to take ownership of the information that is conveyed.
Let me give you an example.
There’s a guy named Fred. Fred is a reasonably successful business man. He works long hours to provide the best he can for his family. His kids are in high school. His son is an academic whiz, who finds math and science especially easy. His daughter is the artist in the family. She can draw characters that look lifelike and her sketchbook is filled with what she calls doodles that the rest of us would call masterpieces.
Fred started smoking years ago in the military. Over the years he’s gotten so he hates his habit and has tried to quite a bunch of times. But his job is really stressful, and besides, he says, we all know how addictive cigarettes are. Every time he’s tried to quit he’s gained a bunch of weight, been totally impossibly grumpy to be around, or both. He’s tried patches, gum, he even went to a hypnotherapist one time. Nothing’s ever worked for him.
Yet one day Fred just up and quits cold turkey. Never smokes again.
How can that be? After all that failure? What happened?
Well Fred went in to see his doctor, again. He was feeling run down, actually rather crappy all the way around. He knew the speech he’d get – eat better, more exercise, and quit smoking, blah, blah, blah. But he was tired of feeling sick and tired. While he was in the doctors office he actually had a heart attack right there in the waiting room.
Fortunately for Fred the staff at his doctor’s office was very well trained and he recovered fully. But while he was still in the hospital plugged up to all those machines his doctor went to see him. Well the doctor had lectured Fred a thousand times before but this time the doc decides to do something a little different. He paints a picture for Fred. He tells Fred flat out, “If you don’t quit smoking today you will die before your daughter gets married and you will never know any of your grandkids.”
Well, because of Fred’s emotional state right after the heart attack, the doctor was able to convey a couple of images that totally got Fred’s attention – his daughter’s wedding without him, and his grandkids without a grandpa.
The story the doctor told tied in Fred’s emotions and was successful in getting the message across where all the facts and knowledge and will power weren’t.
He was talking with a small group of us and he said that we might consider simplifying our message, perhaps come up with a metaphor or an image that conveys your philosophy or intention.
He gave us an example from his own marketing consulting business. He could tell potential clients that his marketing philosophy involves, “a heterogeneous portfolio approach to allocating the propagation of consumer communication resources to maximize the ascendancy of the comprehensive campaign.”
But if he did, most of the rest of us would look at him like a heifer staring at a new gate.
So instead he tells potential clients that he approaches marketing with the idea of, “not putting all our eggs in one basket.”
Which one gets the point across better to you?
So here’s Todd’s challenge to me (and I’m passing it on as a challenge to you): How can you summarize what you do (or what you want to do) into a clear image or metaphor that will get your point across much more effectively to others?
So what metaphor or image would get your message across better?
I’m working on mine.