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Tell Me a Story

By Peter Lloyd

Storytelling as the way to do business, as the way to speak to your market, as the way to lead people... Talk about your message as anything but storytelling today and you will be practically accused of committing a crime. That may be a stretch, but if you haven’t thought about how to tell your story, you’re cheating yourself.

Stories connect with people in a visceral sort of way. We care about stories. They hold our attention, if only to hear the conclusion. The more suspense you incorporate in your tale, the longer your listener will wait. A story engages your emotions and resonates, if you tell it properly, in a way logic-driven reason or the finest prose can never hope to emulate. The best documentaries unfold as stories. The best commercials tell stories. Nothing persuades like a story.

In Are You Pretending to Be Creative? I argued that all creative work involves pretending. That if you want to be more creative, start pretending to be more creative. Let me enlist Jeffrey Wright to support that crazy claim.

When actors take on causes, they automatically bring on board people who align with the characters they have portrayed and for their ability to create the suspension of disbelief Wright talks about in the video. However, he is the first actor I have heard to actually apply the creative techniques used in creating stories in movies and the theater to getting things done in real life. To “refashion reality.”

As Jeffery explains, “What we’re trying to do is write stories, create a vision, a developmental vision, act on it as an organization. We really are the company—the theater company—and the characters within this story are real life.”

You can apply Wright’s lesson to all creative enterprises. An invention materializes a vision of a thing unmade. A narrative work of art, characters unborn. A painting, visions unseen. A symphony, music unheard. To create art, music, new products, or innovation, you begin by pretending.

To gather folks around you in support, says Wright, “You have to instill a sense of faith, really, in those things unknown, that the vision will be realized. Suspension of disbelief is critical to pressing forward and realizing a new reality whether it be in the theater or whether it be in business.”

Peter Lloyd is co-creator with Stephen Grossman of Animal Crackers, the breakthrough problem-solving tool designed to crack your toughest problems.

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