Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tell a Story

I love stories…maybe it’s my heritage in working for Disney, or maybe it’s just because I think they are a wonderful vehicle to tell about projects or programs…better than reciting a mind-numbing list of facts and figures. To the point of storytelling, my friend Dwain Deville, just sent over this article from Business Week.

From the article:

Tell classic stories. Most reporters don't care about a tiny startup, and that's why Benioff never positioned himself as such. He told a classic David-vs.-Goliath story. "We gave the media something different. We gave them something new. We always positioned ourselves as revolutionaries. We went after the largest competitor in the industry or the industry itself. We made our story about change. We were about something new and different that was good for customers, and good for the community. We talked about the future." Although the media landscape is changing, Benioff believes there will always be a need for content. The delivery model might be changing, but exchanging and sharing stories and information remains as important as ever.

Make your own metaphors. According to Benioff, simple metaphors are a terrific way to communicate your message. "I spend a lot of time creating metaphors to explain what we do. For example, early on I explained what we did with the metaphor " is (AMZN) meets Siebel Systems." Later when we launched AppExchange we called it "the eBay (EBAY) of enterprise software." Anyone can create their own metaphors, says Benioff. "Just remember to test them before you put them out there. Try a few and run them by customers, analysts, and people in your network to make sure they work."

I’d add that even if you’re not dealing with reporters, but instead are talking to board members, funding sources, stakeholders, friends of your program, etc…stories are a powerful way to get your message across. And what’s best, if your Board members hears a story, it then becomes a story that he/she can tell and it gets your message out even further into the community. Think stories…gather them, edit them and tell them to get your message out in way that facts and figures never can.

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