The art of storytelling and the “power of the narrative”

Trump mastered a “central truth of persuasion” … Hillary didn’t.

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In my courses, I emphasize that pitches (think: Powerpoint decks) should be organized around storylines with smooth-flowing logic that is sufficiently compelling to lead the audience to an inescapable conclusion.

For many students, that notion doesn’t come naturally, especially since we typically think about stories in a cultural frame (movies, books, music) … not business communications..

Not only are storylines important in business communications, they are critical in political campaigns.

Just ask Mark McKinnon.

He’s a former Bush marketing adviser who followed around all of the candidates for a Showtime series called (appropriately) “The Circus”.

After 18 months on the campaign trail, McKinnon concluded:

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More specifically, McKinnon says:

Voters are attracted to candidates who lay out a storyline.

Losing campaigns communicate unconnected streams of information, ideas, and speeches.

Winning campaigns create a narrative architecture that ties it all together into something meaningful and coherent.

Trump told a story.

Hillary didn’t.

So, how to tell a good story?

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According to McKinnon, to tell a good story….

    1. Identify a threat and/or an opportunity.
    2. Establish victims of the threat or denied opportunity.
    3. Suggest villains that impose the threat or deny the opportunity.
    4. Propose solutions.
    5. Reveal the hero.

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McKinnon observes that Trump applied this formula for good storytelling:

He identified a threat: outside forces trying to change the way we live.

And an opportunity: make America great again.

He established victims: blue-collar workers who have lost jobs or experienced a declining standard of living.

He suggested villains: Mexican immigrants, China, establishment elites.

He proposed solutions: build a wall, tear up unfair trade deals.

And the hero was revealed, Donald Trump.

The rest – as they say – is history.

And, it’s a  lesson to all of us when we’re crafting our pitches …

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#HomaFiles

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One Response to “The art of storytelling and the “power of the narrative””

  1. TTK Says:

    Even if she got 2,000,000 more votes?

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