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Persuading Through Storytelling—Recognizing a Good Story Is the First Step to Crafting One

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 1/16/2013

The forthcoming Q1 2013 edition of Strategic Alliance Magazine is in production and on track to arrive mailboxes around mid-February. In this edition, we debut a new section titled “Your Career” that presents an in-depth look at how to apply the skill of effective storytelling to the ongoing affairs of alliance management professionals. This topic was explored at the 2012 ASAP BioPharma Conference by communications consultant Trisha Griffin-Carty, president of Griffin-Carty Communications. Griffin-Carty’s session received rave reviews, and she will now be delivering an updated version of her presentation and discussion at the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

Storytelling was also the subject of an ASAP Asia Collaborative Business Community chapter event last May held in Melbourne, Australia. The discussion was led by Shawn Callahan, founder and codirector of management consulting firm Anecdote Pty Ltd. (Both Griffin-Carty and Callahan are quoted in the Q1 2013 Strategic Alliance Magazine “Your Career” piece.) At the Asia Collaborative Business Community meeting, Callahan expressed surprise at how often he encounters folks who don’t recognize the elements of a story. It is not uncommon for people to confuse a testimonial, for example, with an actual anecdote, he said.

Callahan spent the better part of the event relating the art of storytelling to the business world, but he also took some time to outline for attendees certain identifying markers of an actual story. With the caveat that these are not hard and fast rules but rather rules of thumb, Callahan said to look out for the following elements:
  • Time markers (e.g., “Just three weeks ago…” or “A while back, when we were beginning this collaboration…”)
  • Events (e.g., “At a governance meeting last month…”)
  • Dialogue (e.g., “I met with the CEO of X company, and I remember telling him…”
  • Unanticipated part (e.g., a moment the narrative is building towards)
For our “Your Career” article, Callahan illustrated this last facet with a story about a recently-hired CEO of an Australian bank who found it curious that some of his new organization’s conference rooms were completely empty, while the other half were in constant use throughout the day. On the doors of the empty ones he found signs explaining that the rooms were available exclusively to general managers and senior leaders. The new CEO walked into all the empty meeting rooms and ripped the signs off the walls, thereby sending the company the message that conference rooms were to be booked based on business need, not employee rank. The crescendo of the CEO tearing off the signs is an example of an unanticipated moment.

Future editions of “Your Career” will focus on a particular topic related to skills development and career advancement.

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