Effective storytelling can spell the difference between a captivating and persuasive dialog and a boring and energy-sapping interaction. As the influencer you are responsible not only for providing hard facts and argument; you are also obliged to be a good storyteller.
Good storytellers rarely fail because they can gain rapport with their subjects more quickly than influencers who rely solely on rational arguments. Good storytellers are much more successful because they can exert some degree of control over the subject’s emotions and imagination.
And as you may already know, it’s actually easier to persuade or influence someone if you have access to the person’s subconscious mind. The subconscious mind actually has some degree of control over the decision-making process.
When the imagination and emotions are fired up strategically, a person is able to say “yes” with little or no hesitation. Below are some more strategic guidelines to make your stories more effective when it comes to persuading and influencing others:
# 1 Create a story that breaks their current mental trances
People spend their days within the influence of mental trances. Each subject has a specific mental trance that you would have to break in order to get your message across. For example, your subject may be preoccupied with work-related problems or family problems.
A person’s trance acts like vale that prevents you from embedding subconscious commands. As a storyteller, one of your biggest goals is to shatter the subject’s current trance (whatever it may be) and transport the subject to another dimension where your words, ideas and internal representations are at the very center.
Spin a yarn so well-made that the subject would willingly get out of his current trance to pay attention to the experiences you are relating through your stories.
# 2 Scary stories can work for you
A lot of influence teachers warn against the use of scary stories. I believe that scary stories can help you persuade someone but you have to keep everything balanced. A scary story should elicit a desired response from the subject or audience but it shouldn’t frighten them so much that they want to make a run for it. A scary story should provide the right amount of details and you must not forget to integrate important points of your main argument to the story.
# 3 Share knowledge as if you were sharing water or food
As an influencer, your job is to create harmony or rapport between you and the subject. You must speak at the subject’s level but at the same time, you shouldn’t appear like you are lowering yourself or raising yourself above the subject. This principle applies to storytelling as well.
When you are sharing knowledge, the subject has to feel that you are sharing something really valuable and you are not telling him something because he needs to be educated.
The subject must feel that he is gaining a valuable resource when he chooses to listen to you. He must not feel stupid while listening to you so be careful of your terms and how you phrase facts and statistics.
Complex facts must be presented in simple terms. Avoid highfaluting jargon and industry-specific terms that your audience may not fully comprehend. Anything that cannot be understood within a second or two should be considered a stumbling block and must be avoided. Remember: the center of the interaction is your audience, not you. Don’t say something because it pleases you. Say something because it helps you influence or persuade the other person.
# 4 Be a humble storyteller
Showing that you are a humble person will naturally lower the subject’s mental defenses. Some people think that in order to be assertive, you need to be pushy and arrogant. You don’t have to go down this path at all because this approach can backfire on you easily.
If you project to your audience that you are arrogant and “high and mighty”, any rapport that you may have created in the beginning will dissolve. Your audience might feel defensive or agitated with the situation. Your audience’s attention will probably waver too.
# 5 Harness the power of visualization
A story can only be truly captivating if you can create exact internal representations in the subject’s imagination. Your words should also trigger the right emotions.
If you are able to trigger the right images and emotions in the subject, you can get him to agree with you almost automatically. For example, if you are offering a new system that streamlines stocking and inventory, you can share a story about how a medium sized enterprise was able to save thousands of dollars every month simply by using the system.
You can paint images or internal representations that focus on being able to relax because the system can literally run itself for you. After painting this picture for your subjects, you can then follow up with a simple question (which is actually a lead-in for the call to action): would you like to enjoy more days off every week because this system actually works for you on autopilot, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
Any business owner would squeal “yes!” when you ask such a question because no one in their right mind would refuse a few days of rest.
# 6 Always include verifiable facts and statistics
Some people like hard facts while some don’t. To strike a balance between these two groups, I recommend ‘sprinkling’ verifiable facts throughout your story to make it more believable. Examples of verifiable facts are:
Names of people involved
Dates of events
Places where events took place
Time when an event took place
Past statistics research
As long as a detail was taken from somewhere that is credible, it can be used in a story. Avoid adding hearsay and speculations to your story. Such elements might make your story sound interesting but in the end they just make you look bad because they’re still fictional.