The Information Age is coming to a close. It is crumbling around the ancient foundation of the human desperation for meaningful story, unadorned truth, and compelling drama that holds a mirror to life… Information is impotent to reach the hearts and minds of those who can use your idea, product, or service.
But a story? Now that’s a horse of a different color. Peter Guber, known for multiple entrepreneurial successes (including film making), has often relied on the power of story to engage, win over and sell. In his book, Tell to Win, he instructs us on how to move beyond soulless data, PowerPoints and figure-laden spreadsheets towards emotionally connecting stories. What’s significant here is his emphasis on purposeful storythat leads us toward a clear call to action.
- Hook – What is unique, special, compelling about what you do and have to say? It’s imperative to capture your audience’s attention first and fast.
- Plot – The “meat” (or entrée-size vegetarian meal).
- Characters – The folks (or critters, or trees, or open spaces) we need to care about
- Action – What is happening that makes a difference. It’s best to build your action around what’s in it for your constituents.
- Dialogue –Genuine connection, considering the voice of our constituents. We must sound authentic.
- Genre – Speaking to your niche (don’t write a mystery for folks who want romance novels; don’t spin a tale about an aspect of your business that very few folks care about; pay attention to what constituents support as it generally won’t be everything you do).
- Rewrite – Run it by a few folks to see what they think; then tweak or start over. Even the best writers sometimes miss the mark.
Now, back to psychology for a moment. Melanie Green and Tom Brock have seriously studied persuasion and write about it in Persuasion: Psychological Insights and Perspectives. Among their findings is the fact that when we enter into a story world our thinking is altered. We’re more receptive. We’re not reading looking for faults. When we read factual accounts, we’ve got our guard up. As a result, as Gottschall neatly sums up: “fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.” And certainly philanthropic research validates the fact that giving is ruled by the heart, not the head.