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Storytelling for Leaders: Lesson and Recommendation

This lesson is a part of an audio course Storytelling for Leaders by Paul Andrew Smith

Okay, now that we’ve completed the resolution, the story is technically over, but your work as a storyteller isn’t. Now it’s time to transition out of the story and make use of it—to make meaning with it and drive some action. And the most productive thing you can do after telling a story is to just listen. Let the story sink in and give your listener a chance to respond to it. After all, you’re having a conversation with someone, right? Giving them a chance to talk is a requirement, and right after you’ve told a story is the perfect time to do that.

But the main reason to just listen at this point is so you can find out what they learned from the story and what they plan to do now that they’ve heard it. Remember, your purpose in telling these stories is to change what people think, feel, or do. Now’s the time to listen and find out if it worked. Because people are far more passionate about pursuing their own ideas than they are about pursuing your ideas. And that’s precisely why storytelling is such an effective communication vehicle. It turns your ideas into their ideas.

So, before you just blurt out the answers to questions 7 and 8, give the story a chance to work, and see what your audience thinks. And if they give you the indication that they learned the lesson you wanted them to learn and intend to go do what you wanted them to do, great. You’re done. And you never need to answer questions 7 or 8 because your audience answered them for you.

But, if they came to a different conclusion, you can always redirect them. “Yeah, I thought about that at first, too. But I came to a different conclusion and here’s why…”

So, if you need to explain the lesson, the easiest way to do that is with a simple transitional phrase like, “I think what I learned from that story was…” or “So, that explains why…” or “I think what the woman in that story should have done was…” and then complete the sentence.

And all of that goes for question 8 as well. “What should I do now?” That’s your recommended action. First, find out what your audience plans to do now that they’ve heard the story. If it’s the answer you wanted to hear, again, great, you’re done. If not, just redirect them. “That’s one route you could take. But here's what I think you should do…”

The good news is, if you choose the right story to tell, and do a halfway decent job of telling it, you’ll never have to answer questions 7 or 8 anyway.

Okay, in the next lesson, you’ll learn several techniques to create the right level of emotional engagement in your stories.

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Written by

Paul Andrew Smith