19-in-20 people don’t remember your presentation


One of the best predictors of sales success isn’t likeability, attention to detail or even industry expertise, but how one authentically tells a story. Most people in sales and marketing work in facts, details and stats; in doing so, they overwhelm their customers with the weight of information. And it is forgotten as quickly as it is received. Researchers Dan and Chip Heath found that after a presentation, only 63% of attendees remember stories, while a small group totaling only 5% remember statistics.

The pioneering work of neuro-economics leader Paul Zak has uncovered that stories actually trigger the release of Oxytocin, which encourages empathy in the receiver of the story. In other words, stories actually release what researchers refer to as the “trust hormone.”

Because of the chemical release catalyzed by stories, we relate to stories, not facts. Ironically, facts are oftentimes debatable, but stories allow us to connect with reality. And we prefer pictures. In fact, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. A good story speaks to our intellect, our emotions and our basic psychology.

Business is about relationships. Business is about storytelling. It is about connecting my story to yours. So how do we all utilize stories in our professional life? Two ideas to consider:

Share pain: Do you have the courage to open a discussion, sharing how you and your team have failed? This includes the missteps, the confusion and the frustrations you have encountered. This is much more believable, authentic and human. If you have finally uncovered an idea worth discussing with your customer, it was more than likely birthed out of quite a lot of pain. Why not share the whole story, not just the boring sanitized version? Now that is a story worth listening to and remembering.

What if? What if all of us are missing something, which is hidden right before our eyes? What if, with one decision, we could double our sales, improve loyalty with our customers and reduce complexity within our lives? What if we could transform a current partnership with one decision?

Effective storytelling often times begins with a question. The right question opens up the door for co-creation with your customers and leads you into the future. Stories are journeys, and they oftentimes begin by questioning something. A thoughtful, disruptive “what if” question opens up the audience for discovery.

Quit dumping lots of data; bring others into your story. Take them on a journey.

Dan Mack is the managing director of Elevation Forum, and author of the book “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence.” For more insights, visit mackelevationforum.com

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