“Why is Leadership Storytelling So Powerful?” 11/22

Blog Post #9

The article I am reviewing, found here, takes a closer look behind the power of storytelling as a leadership approach and how we, as ordinary souls, can harness the ability to create visions and fantasies with simple tips and tricks guided by author, Esther Choy.

She prefaces Oprah Winfrey’s quote about storytelling, expressing how valuable and influtential this tactic can actually be amongst a group of people that can ultimately shape and move lives.

Choy’s Advice
1. Become a Storyteller Collector
2. Become a Reverse Engineer
3. Notice the Bad Stories
4. Seek Feedback

Become a Storyteller Collector
Choy advises us to collect good stories! Just like anything else in life, the more you practice what you preach, the better understanding and knowledge you have of the subject matter and can therefore lead by example! Once you’ve collected good stories, file and store them in your memory bank, and refer to them from time to time. I almost think of this as a bunch of life mottos and inspiring mantras we all collect throughout life. We often reference our favorite quotes because they mean something to us and usually teach an overarching message that is intentional and can be applied to various situations throughout life.

Become a Reverse Engineer
This step taps into what I had prefaced within collecting good stories. So we figured out the what part – what makes good stories. As a reverse engineer, you can solve the why – why do these stories mean something to you. How do they resonate with audiences? What makes the main character so likeable or the hero so strong and brave? Choy says to dissect stories!

Notice the Bad Stories
Spotting bad stories is just as important as spotting a good one! Figure out why some stories are boring even before they ever begin. What makes a story boring? Again this step is like a snowball effect, it continues to bounce off the idea of reverse engineering. Ask yourself some of these questions:

Are you bored because…

– You’re in a hurry and have a million other things to do, and you wish the person could just get to the point?
– You don’t really understand what they’re saying, but don’t want to ask questions, and now you’re even more irritated and aggravated because that means you have to go and look things up yourself? (Ex. “My boss is going to think I’m an idiot if I don’t understand these things.”)

I feel like the last example is extremely relateable in adademic settings. Maybe your professor is speaking too fast and you don’t want to voice your thoughts because it may just be you suffering from this problem and you don’t want to seem like the odd man out etc.

Ask yourself this last question: “Do I do that sometimes when I tell stories? When I speak publicly? When I present?”

Seek Feedback
Last but not least, feedback! How else will you improve your storytelling? Practice makes perfect and what better way to do so by gaining earnest commentary from an audience that can answer questions like: How does the story make them feel? What do they remember? What questions do they have at the end of the presentation?

Just How Powerful is Storytelling?
Well, it comes down to the scientific studies researchers have performed in order to quantify how impactful this psychological technique can have on our neurological brain anatomy.

“The Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, explains that the brain may produce cortisol while hearing stories that make us distressed, which can focus our attention. Stories that make us feel care, connection and empathy can produce oxytocin. The more oxytocin, the more empathy one feels.

Empathy plays a huge role in the way we connect to one another and a way to instill trust in your future leader per say. When you tell stories, people are far more likely to remember what you say. A fun fact is that most people forget more than 40% of the information you tell them by the very next day. After a week, they will likely have forgotten a full 90% of what you said. Stories allow for information to be absorbed retained up to 20% more.

Above all, stories often lead to action. Author Alan Weiss has noted, “Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act.” At the end of the day, we want to prompt people to do something, and logic doesn’t necessarily emote. We need emotion to get people off the couch and onto their feet to do something about our message.

1 Comment

  1. Great review and summary of the article! I like the connection you made to how we naturally collect mantras or quotes that inspire us. Collecting our stories is similar and helpful for later application. Thanks for the feature!


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