9 Words that Turned a “No” into a “Yes”

This great video reminds us that it’s not what you say that makes the biggest difference – it’s how you say it.

Why do these 9 words work? They tug at emotions by highlighting the gap between a goal (see the beautiful day) and the current situation (I can’t see it) through the “eyes” of the hero – the classic elements of storytelling.

I’ll be writing more about storytelling in business. Subscribe to this blog to receive new blog posts.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Tell to Win (Peter Guber) Book Review

Tell to Win illustrates the powerful way stories can catapult your message over the walls of indifference and resistance. But if you are looking for a how-to manual on how to craft your own stories, this is not the book.

Guber has lived an interesting life as head honcho at entertainment giants like Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures and Mandalay Entertainment. And so, he is full of stories from famous names like Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton, Sidney Poitier, Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Mandela and others. These are first-hand accounts, not things he’s heard through the grapevine. If you could claim you were involved in a single one of these stories, you would use it to open a talk on storytelling. Guber has been involved in dozens of these stories.

An example: Bill Clinton called Guber in a bit of a panic. He needed $90,000 by the end of that day to keep his presidential campaign alive. How did he convince Guber to help? By asking him if he’s ever seen High Noon, the movie about a sheriff who faces four bad guys while the rest of the town cowers in fear, except for one brave girl who makes the difference. Guber says he’s seen the movie. “Well,” says Clinton, “It’s high noon.”

What a powerful example. And it’s one of many.

Tell to Win sets a new bar for books on storytelling in business. Where it misses the mark is on defining a story, how to craft a story and when to not use stories. In this regard, the book is a bit like a coffee table book, heavy on beautiful examples but light on practical advice.

Nevertheless, if the book makes you rethink how you use storytelling to sell your most important ideas, the time and money you invest in Tell to Win will pay you back with interest.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Tell Movie Analogies and Make Your Point Stick

When you’re looking for analogies that will sway an audience, one good source is movies. In Peter Guber’s excellent book Tell to Win, he gives the story of when Bill Clinton called him and asked for his help raising funds for his presidential campaign. Clinton was in dire straights, but instead of just explaining his challenge, Clinton said “Did you ever watch High Noon?”

Guber is chairman of Sony Pictures, so of course he’s watched the movie where a brave town sherrif faces off against four bad guys who have come into town on the noon train. None of the townsfolk will stand with the sherrif to confront these goons, except for one brave girl who turns out to be the difference. The message is clear: will you stand with me or, like all the feint-hearted men of that town, draw the blinds closed?

Now, in truth, I’ve never seen High Noon so this analogy wouldn’t have worked as well with me. That’s why, when you choose analogies, grab them from movies your audience has actually seen.

Shawn Callahan’s Anecdote blog lists the 15 most popular movies to pull analogies from. I highly recommend you read his article and make this your “Bucket List.”

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

The World’s Saddest Story in 6 Words

And the story behind the story is that this short piece was written by Ernest Hemmingway. He was lunching with colleagues and bet them $10 each he could write a story in 10 words or less. As you can see, he won the bet. 

Stories are powerful. Learn how to use storytelling and you will find people more likely to listen to you, agree with you, and repeat what you said to others. Subscribe to this blog to continue receiving posts about storytelling in business. Photo © sunsurfr

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

My Presentation is Boring! Now What?

Nick Morgan answers an important question on the Forbes.com blog: how do I keep it interesting when I have to present a bunch of dry technical facts?

Dr. Morgan’s advice is timely (read it here) given that many business presentations are not of the “I Have a Dream” variety. They are dry, technical, factual, let’s face it…they’re boring.

So how do you tackle a boring topic? Give this a try.

Ask yourself: what negative impact would it have on my audience if they didn’t have this information? Then make that the topic of your talk.

For instance, say you’re presenting some new tax laws that will affect small businesses in your area. The information is dry and technical. But what negative effect could it have if your audience didn’t have that information?

Well, they could make a mistake that gets them audited. Or they could miss important tax breaks and lose money.

So make that the topic of your presentation. “Protecting yourself from an audit and the new tax laws” is a more interesting topic than “the new tax laws” and puts your dry facts in context.

How about this one: you’re presenting an overview of the new ordering system to channel partners. What could go wrong if they don’t understand the new ordering system? They could input customer orders incorrectly, so that customers receive the wrong items, or shipments are delayed when errors are discovered. So make that your topic: “How to avoid incorrect customer shipments using the new ordering system.”

Give it a try.

If you don’t know what your audience would lose by not knowing your facts, then perhaps the problem is not your dry content, but that you’ve chosen a topic your audience doesn’t really care about.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.