Tell Me a Story

Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers’ houses. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires. — Jewish Teaching Story

I’ve been reading a number of books about how to communicate effectively, and one thing they all harp on is the power of story telling. No need to sell me! But it did send me to my bookshelf to fish out a book I had ordered long ago on someone’s recommendation. The second chapter opened with the above story, and I found it so compelling I had to share.

Since I am currently enamored of lists, I’ll share the author’s (Annette Simmons) six key types of stories:
1. “Who Am I” Stories
2. “Why Am I Here” Stories
3. “The Vision” Story
4. “Teaching” Stories
5. “Values-in-Action” Stories
6. “I Know What You Are Thinking” Stories

Each one is designed to establish credibility, create empathy and eventually teach or persuade the listener. I appreciate Simmons continual attention to the end goal of story telling in the context of our work lives, as other books get caught up in the mythology and poetry of our oral history. This is a business book first, and knows it. If you are a disciple of Fray, if you are a student of Joseph Campbell, or looking to write the next American novel I recommend you look elsewhere. Bu if you have to make a presentation to the executive team, this is the perfect book for you. I’m only a third in right now, so I’ll probably have more to tell as I work my way through, but so far I’m enjoying the focus and the form.

Here is a short article by her if you’d like to sample her writing style: The Power of Story: Dressing Up the Naked Truth.

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  1. 1
    Will

    That is a great book. When she talks about Story Listening and the need to understand what stories your audience is already telling itself, it gets particularly good.

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