Archive for April, 2013

Virtual Storytelling Works Well for Introductory Presentation

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
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If your organization needs storytelling training but would rather dip a toe in the water instead of diving straight in, an introductory presentation that’s delivered virtually may be the answer. After speaking to several groups “live” via web-based video chat technology, I’ve concluded that it works–and works very well.I had my doubts about being able to form a strong connection and interact naturally with people in a room at the other end of the country, and I was pleasantly surprised. The bond that starts to form when people tell stories occurs even when they’re separated by thousands of miles. This was true whether I was in my own office using a simple web cam or on-site in front of a corporate audience with their colleagues in another state linked via the corporate video system.

The accompanying photo shows the video screen set up in a board room when I delivered a 90-minute keynote-style presentation from my office. The session included time for the viewers to share stories with one another and also allowed  for audience interaction through a Q&A segment. I was able to discern each of the 12 people seated around the table, and as you can see, my image was bigger than life!

We followed up the introductory program with one-on-one telephone consultations to help each board member develop a story illustrating his/her special connection to the organization. Stories that relate a meaningful personal experience are especially powerful. They develop connections with the audience at a deep level and naturally win support for an idea or a mission.

If you’d like to explore how a virtual session would work for you, give me a call at 1-425-827-3998. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy and how effective it is.

Five Words Fundraising Stories Should Elicit

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Speakers naturally are gratified when a crowd gathers around them after a presentation, exclaiming how great they were and how impressive their work is. But how closely do you, as a speaker, pay attention to the meaning of the comments you’re hearing, particularly when you’re helping to raise funds for a non-profit organization?

Much of the feedback fundraisers hear is, contrary to their beliefs, not expressing support of their cause, according to The Rev. Eric Foley, founder and CEO of Seoul USA/.W. He says that when a person tells you after a fundraising presentation, “You’re great! Man, I could never do what you do,” that person is saying that s/he never will do what you do–or support what you do. The person is telling you that your organization’s story didn’t touch the individual’s heart.

Having trained more than 1,300 Christian organizations in the art of fundraising, The Rev. Foley has concluded that five key words tell you whether your presentation was a success. Those five words are, “I see myself in you.”

When you hear those words from an audience member, you know you’ve made a connection and won over a new donor. How often do you hear those words after a fundraising presentation? How might you improve your stories to elicit those words?



Your Personal Story Is Key to Success

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

In the drive to build a successful career, most people have followed traditional guidance. It starts with learning to play well with others in pre-school, in the neighborhood and on the school playground. From kindergarten on, you’re told to pay attention in class, do your homework, make your best effort, get a good education, and then be willing to start at the bottom and do whatever you’re asked to do, even if the work seems beneath someone with your now-stellar preparation!

The one piece of important advice that’s often missing is this: Know your personal story and tell it well.

Yes, your personal story is crucial to your career success. That point was driven home to me this week when I talked with a prospective client about a training program for top-level managers being considered for the ultimate promotion to partner. One of the factors the candidates will be judged on is the authenticity and relevance of their personal stories. Why you? How have you proven yourself? Are you ready for the top?

Using the personal stories as one of the selection criteria clearly illustrates the truth of Annette Simmons’ book title: Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins.

How about you? Do you clearly answer the questions in your audience’s minds when you’re trying to sell a service, a product, an idea–or yourself as the right person for the position?

Even Data Scientists Need to Tell Stories

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

data-analysis-cartoon-1Two data scientists acknowledged in a recent blog post that even they need to sharpen their storytelling skills rather than thinking it’s enough to keep on cranking out data. They also urged their colleagues to recognize not just the power of storytelling, but also the need to tell stories to give their data meaning.

Writing on the “Harvard Business Review” blog, Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin of explain that there’s a good reason many people immediately think “Big Brother” when they hear the term “Big Data.” While computers can do a lot–and keep on cranking out reports and numbers 24/7–people intuitively know that their core needs as human beings can’t be quantified or fulfilled by a machine. So the more computers are able to do and asked to do, the more anxious people become.

“As the cost of collecting and storing data continues to decrease,”Bladt and Filbin write, “the volume of raw data an organization has available can be overwhelming. Of all the data in existence, 90% was created in the last 2 years.” Yes, you read that correctly: 90% of all data at our disposal today was created in just the past 2 years! The authors caution that human translation and context is essential to make use of that information successfully.

“Without a human frame, like photos or words that make emotion salient,” the scientists say, “data will only confuse, and certainly won’t lead to smart organizational behavior.”

What do you think? How does your organization process and manage the data it collects? More importantly, perhaps, is this question: How well are all the humans in your company coping with the flood of data you’re expected to use?