Sometimes I call myself a social media story teller. I often get advised that this is a weak position, that I should organize my presentation like big time analysts do it with lots of numbers and graphs or like recent MBAs do it, where the key points of a presentation are called, “key points.”
I disagree. I find story telling to be powerful, memorable and effective. I find charts flashed on a screen to be puzzling and often forgettable. Sometimes talking points work, but often they are either redundant or forgettable cliches.
Sometimes, I open my talks by mentioning that back in 1987, I was the PR guy who gave the world PowerPoint. I pause, then say,”forgive me.” It always gets a laugh.
I do use PowerPoint, but mostly I just put up a photo of a person that I’m telling you about. If it’s a marketing audience, then I may add a page of “takeaways” on my last slide. But I know the audience won’t take away those closing bullet points.
They’ll take away the stories of people whose faces I showed them. They will have certain key points that stay in their memory, even if I did not make those points, and those words never appeared in bullet point fashion.
Hopefully, one of my stories will contain information or insights that is useful or interesting to audience members and will help them adjust course where they work. I find telling stories let’s people get inspired. I’m certain that demonstrating what I know does not.
Marketers today really have two courses to take in talking to customers. It doesn’t matter if those customers are business people or consumers. The can make claims and deliver talking points, or they can tell stories.
Stories work in traditional marketing forms such as advertising and PR and they most certainly work in new marketing forms such as blogs and video.
It is something in our nature as humans that makes us lovers of stories. Story-telling is how we remember our ancestors. It probably goes all the way back to caves.
When Org and Morb came back from the hunt and the tribe held a great feast. At the end our hunters used grunts and gesture to tell the story of their adventure. Maybe they enhanced their effort by drawing little pictures with sticks in the dirt.
The next morning, while they slept, perhaps another member of the tribe, one not as adept at hunting, went to the wall of the cave, and using blood and berries, drew pictures on the cave that told the story of the great hunt.
This was story telling, but it was also–in some ways–the beginning of the marketing of that tribe continuity. It was the beginning of making representations that led to a common knowledge and it was an early dot on a continuum that gives us TV and YouTube.
Can you picture how it would have gone, if that first story teller had drawn bullet points to explain how the project was planned, executed and the return on investment along with lessons learned? Can you imagine a world, whose history is shaped by 10,000 years of PowerPoint.