On The Story Factor

I recently finished reading The Story Factor – Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling – by Annette Simmons.

As the title indicates, this is a book about the power of storytelling as an influencing tool. As Annette best tells it: “People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeball in information. They want faith…Faith needs a story to sustain it – a meaningful story that inspires belief in you and renews hope that your ideas indeed offer what you promise…Story is your path to creating faith. Telling a meaningful story means inspiring your listeners…to reach the same conclusions you have reached and decide for themselves to believe what you say and do what you want them to do. People value their own conclusions more highly than yours. They will only have faith in a story that has become real for them personally. Once people make your story, their story, you have tapped into the powerful force of faith. Future influence will require very little follow-up energy from you and may even expand as people recall and retell your story to others.”

The author then goes to summarize what the remainder of the book is about: “The rest of this book is dedicated to proving to you the things you already know about storytelling and filling in whatever gaps might be missing. Storytelling is not rocket science. It is very easy and incredibly rewarding to practice.”

A very enlightening, practical and applicable book – no matter what it is that you do in life. You will find inspiration and learn numerous techniques to improve your storytelling abilities and consequently your influence. Highly recommended read!

Below are key excerpts from the book, that I found particularly insightful:

1- “There are six types of stories that will serve you well in your efforts to influence others. 1) “Who I Am” Stories, 2) “Why I Am Here” Stories, 3) “The Vision” Story, 4) “Teaching” Stories, 5) “Values-in-Action” Stories, 6) “I Know What You Are Thinking” Stories. ”

2- “Other methods of influence – persuasion, bribery, or charismatic appeals – are push strategies. Story is a pull strategy. If your story is good enough, people – of their own free will – come to the conclusion they can trust and the message you bring.”

3- “People need story to organize their thoughts and make sense of things. In fact, anyone you attempt to influence already has a story…If you tell them a story that makes better sense to them you can reframe the way they organize their thoughts, the meanings they draw, and thus the actions they take.”

4- “Policy can’t adapt, but a story can give guidance, make sense, and without ruling on either side of an unresolvable conflict, invite someone to think through her own creative solution to a tough problem.”

5- “A good story helps you influence the interpretation people give to facts. Facts aren’t influential  until they mean something to someone. A story delivers a context so that your facts slide into new slots in your listener’s brains.”

6- “However, if you tell sustaining, guiding stories like this one, people will feel empowered to stop asking you for answers and to think for themselves. An answer only gives them a fish, whereas a story teaches them how to fish for themselves.”

7- “Influence is a function of grabbing attention, connecting to what they already feel is important, and linking that feeling to whatever you want them to see, do,or feel. It is easier to let your story land first, and then draw the circle of meaning/connection around it using what you see and hear in the responses of your listeners. Influencing is a real-time activity.”

8- “Traditional models of influence are linear and focus on power that is first gained, then exercised, and in the end either reinforced or list. Story favors a circular model of power where influence is passed back and forth and where beginning are endings and endings are beginnings.”

9- “A wonderful way to find influential stories is to review the personal experiences that brought you to the place where you now want to influence others.”

10- “True influence changes behavior without relying on constant reminders. Any agreement that depends on policing future behavior is not addressing some force or dynamic still working against your desired goal.”

11- “No builder would start building without first understanding the foundations of the terrain. Neither would a successful influencer build a new story without first understanding the old stories. Influence will require either a new foundation that can coexist with the old stories or excavation and removal of the old outdated stories.”

12- “Storytelling tracks vital deviations that inspire growth – meaningful personal experiences, creative solutions to conflict, and paradoxial truths.”

13- “After all, organizational values form behavior. Stories about your values in action create and sustain the organizational culture (for better or for worse). When you live the vision and values you profess, you need only tell people what happened last week or last moth. If you aren’t living your vision and values daily, well, you can’t dress a pig in a ball gown and expect people to call her princess. Story telling operates as a litmus test of accountability that simultaneously inspires and reminds us to stay true to our values.”

14- “Storytelling is the most valuable skill you can develop to help influence others. It is your birthright to be a good storyteller. In a sense, your life is a story and you are already telling that one perfectly. ”


Omar Halabieh

The Story Factor

The Story Factor


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