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The power of story

When you think about a story, what comes to mind? Perhaps an enjoyable summer read, or maybe even a fable or fairytale. But a story doesn’t have to be confined to fiction alone. In fact, we tell stories every single day. How we see the past, how we envision the future – those are stories. How we convey a message, how we describe a product or service – those are stories as well. A pitch, a presentation, a plea – all stories. In fact, stories are a vital part of any business. And they are one of the most powerful tools you can use to engage your audience.

Stories go far beyond simply relaying facts and data. Stories emotionalize information. They give color and depth to otherwise bland material, and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way. Those potential customers can then connect with your product, service and your entire business in a more profound way.

Yet not all stories are equal. Simply telling a story that may elicit some emotion does not guarantee its efficacy. Tony sat down with his dear friend Peter Guber, the Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, whose films have earned over $3 billion worldwide and 50 Academy Award nominations, to discuss the inherent power and ability a story has to shape the lives of others. Here’s what Peter had to say:

So how do you create a powerful story? First, it’s about finding that emotional core of your message. As Peter says, emotion combined with information becomes memorable and actionable. Confused on what that means? Think about it. Where were you on 9/11? Chances are that you can remember exactly where you were when you learned about the tragic events that transpired that day. But if you had to think where you were the day before that – that memory is probably hazier. Because information attached to pain or pleasure creates an emotional connection that resonates within you.

Next, you must be authentic. People have a sensitive radar when it comes to those trying to manipulate or take advantage of a situation. In fact, rather than focusing on what you want to get out of telling the story, you must shift your focus to how you are going to serve your audience. It’s a pure intention, where you are truly focused on improving or enhancing their lives.

Peter goes on to give the advice: “Be interested, not interesting, or else the audience will never take it in.” Keeping in mind that a story is not a monologue, but a dialogue, helps you to give your audience proprietorship. They become emotional owners of the story you are telling. Then they become advocates – of your product, your service, your business, your brand. But you can’t get there unless you have a generous goal and listen actively.

Lastly, you must know when to move on. Don’t just fire information at an audience if the environment isn’t right. Assess the situation. There is a ripe and a wrong time for every message. And that may mean you will have to find a way to change your audience’s state. Because if they’re not in a prime state to listen to your story, then it’ll fall flat and fail to resonate within them. Timing is key.

If done well and done correctly, a story can have a massive effect on the audience. It can inspire and enliven. It can move them to take action. And it can turn them into a raving fan. Never underestimate the power of your story. And never underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Play it truthfully and emotionally, create a dialogue, and you will see how the gift of story may just become the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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