With just four words —“Tell me a story” —Don Hewitt of CBS News led the
60 Minutes team for decades, always
challenging the correspondents who
pitched him with ideas for the blockbuster Sunday night television program.
I am fairly sure that’s the same phrase
our audiences are saying to us: Want
to drive home a point? Tell me a story.
Want to give me a model of new
behavior to follow? Tell me a story.
Want to provide me content in an
easy-to-grasp way? Tell me a story.
Let’s first acknowledge the elephant
in the room: There will always be people in our audiences who think stories
are fluff and filler—silly ways we like to
show off. But what do they remember?
Duke University Professor Chip Heath
conducted a study a few years back to
see what his students recalled when
they had guest speakers come to the
classroom. Five percent remembered a
specific statistic that was shared, while
63 percent remembered the stories.
Of course, there are good and bad
stories, just like there are good and bad
other elements of our speeches, workshops and breakout sessions. Because
I have a background in journalism,
let me take you on a journalistic path
to explore the value and the art of
By Lou HeckLer, cSP, cPAe
Robert McKee, film writer and author,
says this: “We go to the movies to enter
a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vic-
ariously another human being who at
first seems so unlike us and yet at heart
is like us, to live in a fictional reality
that illuminates our daily reality.”
I believe that’s what stories do in
our presentations. Well-told stories
reveal and remind and maybe even
reinforce knowledge. They turn a con-
cept or a principle into a truth. They
give us a model of behavior and should
make us say things like, “Oh, I get it
now” and “I wonder what I would have
done in that same instance.”
I tell the speakers I coach that our
primary job is to be memorable and
repeatable. If we are those two things,
we are referable. We have a chance to
multiply our impact many times over if
people leave our speeches and seminars
and go back to their businesses or fami-
lies and say, “Wait until I tell you the
story this speaker told today!”
Get Bo and Re-b Explore th of Storyte
Heckler regaled NSA convention attendees in 2011
with a story about coaching youth baseball.