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persuasion

best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Want a raise? Tell the right kind of story.

Consider the homing pigeon, Cher Ami, who took a few bullets, losing her foot and eye during World War I, but still delivered her message, saving a group of American infantrymen in danger. Cher Ami was a hero, especially among the 77th Infantry Division. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and later went on to open a tap dancing school for aviary fanciers who also had a single wooden leg. I made up the part about the tap dancing, but the rest…

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best practices persuasion

Want to be strategic? Be a little touchy-feely

The other day I facilitated a board retreat with one of my favorite advocacy groups. During introductions, I asked each person to share something that would make their eyes roll during the retreat (so I’d  know what to avoid and others would know what to expect). Several members said, “My eyes roll any time we do something touchy-feely.” I gulped, knowing later in the day we’d have a storytelling exercise about their personal journeys to join the board, which was…

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character selection persuasion

Keep your beneficiaries close in your story

Watch, then we klatch. Spoilers ahead…so this is a commercial for sweaters and now YOU WANT ONE FOR THE HOLIDAYS, RIIIIIGHTTTT? This is an ad. Consumers are usually the beneficiaries in ads. Not so in this case and how refreshing is that? Here, the goat herders are the beneficiaries and the sweater-buyers are secondary. Think about this arrangement for your stories. Closer is better. Instead of talking about your ultimate beneficiary, who may be a few relationships away from you,…

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best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Use a cliffhanger at your next fundraiser

We watch and then we klatch. If you give your listener a cliffhanger, she can’t stop right there—er, she can’t let go. She HAS to hear the end of the story. This sequence (i.e., build up the story, hit pause right before the finale, watch the listener clamor for it) can rile up your fans/donors to give more because the tension is driving them nuts. Let them see the montage. The most successful fundraisers I have attended had (in addition to great organization, timing, and proper staffing)…

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best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Strategic storytelling isn’t manipulative

My kid saw an Elmo toothbrush at the grocery store the other day and insisted I buy it. He already had a toothbrush at home but it never fired him up like this one. In the end, figuring this would make him more likely to brush, I bought it. Did he manipulate me? Or persuade me? Or did I do one of those to him? Whenever I teach a workshop on strategic storytelling for nonprofits, I frame it within the art of…

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brand stories persuasion

Want new audiences? Deploy unusual messengers.

Here is a fake statistic that feels plausible to me. More than 90% of nonprofit stories star the same two characters; the person receiving the service and the provider of that service. IT IS SO PREDICTABLE. The kid and his tutor. The recovering addict and the counselor. Been there heard that. Usual messengers = same old same old That formula worked for a while because it’s intimate and emotional but it’s fatiguing. It’s becoming less effective every day. And if you don’t do work on…

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persuasion

Use story to control people’s emotions

Youch. What an aggressive title. The first thing to get straight is that you can influence your audience but not control it. If you try to control it, your story will be contrived and the audience will think more about the terrible storyteller than the failed story. But let’s not shy away from emotion. We all have that friend who tells us about his argument with the unreasonable hot dog vendor who was stingy with the onions and things escalate and yadda yadda this is the…

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data stories persuasion

Stories need emotion first, data second

It’s funny how we forget that we are not an entity (i.e., the business) talking to another entity (i.e, the market). Nor are we computers. We are humans talking to humans. Like Cameron Uganec said: When your colleagues ask you about a conference you attended or about how you spent your weekend, you don’t start with facts and figures…the number of people you met, the number of beers you drank or the amount of time you slept. You tell them stories. What you care about…

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brand stories persuasion

Always be a person

Watch. Then we’ll klatch. If I want to stump someone during a training, I’ll ask a client to tell a story about her organization that stars only individuals—no task forces, institutions, partnerships, etc. Oh, she’ll get uncomfortable. Professionals are accustomed to talking about their work in terms of groups. Everything is “us” and “we.” Totally get it for organizational overviews. Totally don’t recommend it in storytelling. Humans are more relatable than institutions. This ad is a great example on several levels. Besides being clever, it represents an organization…

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best practices brand stories persuasion

Objective versus impact. Don’t get ’em twisted

Every protagonist needs an objective that is to scale. I recently worked with a fabulous university communications team that ran into a very common problem with storytelling. They started their stories with wonderful protagonists (often faculty or students doing impressive work) but by the time they drafted the objectives of those stories (what the protagonist could humanly achieve) they were thinking too big for the story. They were conflating the objective with impact. Objective and impact are different. If you…

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