What I Learned in School Today: Storytelling

Today I attended a training session with other seasoned entrepreneurs. The topic was storytelling. Storytelling is conveying information in a way that resonates with people emotionally. Here’s a quote that sums it up well:

A story is a vehicle that allows you to put the facts in an emotional context.
~ Peter Guber

This topic interests me a lot. Why? Because I think I’m pretty bad at storytelling. I hope learning more about it will help me improve. After today’s session, I clearly understand where I’m lacking.

Here’s my big takeaway. Persuasive stories require the following:

  • EthosCredibility and trustworthiness open people up. People listen to you if you have sound character. It’s tough to persuade if you’re perceived as shady.
  • Logos – Logic, facts, and sound reasoning are convincing. If what you’re saying makes sense, people listen.
  • Pathos – Talking about hopes and dreams, fears and worries, beliefs and ideals appeals to your audience on an emotional level.

We learned a lot of other great things too, like how to structure a story.

I see what my problem is. I’m a very logical person. Naturally, my stories tend to be heavy on logos. I try not to speak about things outside my experience, so ethos isn’t an issue. But my arguments lack pathos. They don’t have emotional appeal. I shy away from revealing how I feel or how something affects me personally. If my facts and logic make sense, people will be persuaded, right? Wrong! Now I know that most people will be swayed only by a story that balances all three elements.

I wish I had known this earlier. Storytelling is hugely important. It helps people buy into your vision—no small thing. It has implications for recruiting, team moral, sales, partnerships . . . Tell good stories and you will paint a clear picture of where you’re headed and convince your team to help you get there.

To every aspiring and current entrepreneur: are you a skillful storyteller? If not, figure out where you fall short and fill that gap. Telling a better story can do great things for your entrepreneurial journey!