Trump mastered a “central truth of persuasion” … Hillary didn’t.
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:
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.
So, how to tell a good story?
According to McKinnon, to tell a good story….
- Identify a threat and/or an opportunity.
- Establish victims of the threat or denied opportunity.
- Suggest villains that impose the threat or deny the opportunity.
- Propose solutions.
- Reveal the hero.
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 …