So this is the Conception Age. This is the age of the storyteller.
Great book I am reading right now … “A Whole New mind” by Daniel Pink. It is eight years old, but it also is incredibly forward thinking. The premise is that the Agricultural Age, Industrial Age and Information Age have given way to an age of thought, design, sensing and feeling. We can no longer only be knowledge workers focused on left (brain)-directional thinking, but emotional workers that balance that approach with right (brain)-directional thinking.
Knowledge workers are more linear (accountants, lawyers, doctors) and deal more directly in facts and absolutes. They led the charge to a huge white-collar work environment in the United States. The new wave of worker is focused on empathy (musicians, writers, designers). Numbers still play a role, but feeling - the emotional connection - plays as big a role in success.
I love reading items that predict a specific future when I am in the position of determining how right or wrong the author was. Pink pretty much nailed it with his. In the business world, the idea of the story being central was not bandied about in 2005. Of course in marketing communications - and in public relations specifically - we talked of “story” and of finding the rigt “pitch” for reporters. But only recently has the strategy turned to “storytelling.” Only recently have we focused more heavily on the emotional connection every pitch needs in order to be effective. As importantly, only recently have we determined every person within an organization is a viable storyteller.
When I work with organizations, I spend a lot of time talking about the “YOU” factor. This is the personality each storyteller possesses. It manifests itself in visual cues such as posture, eye contact, hand gestures and movement. It manifests itself in vocal cues such as tone, volume, inflections and intensity. Think about what signals the storyteller delivers is there was no sound, only sight … or no sight, only sound. These components collaborate with the verbal content - the words chosen to deliver - to create the “net impression.”
These are the building blocks of storytelling. It is not just about the fascinating facts that audiences need to be informed, to be persuaded, to be motivated. It is the package in which those facts are delivered to make people remember and to care. That package is made up of context and emotion. So now storytelling doesn’t only occur when a reporter is being approached about a breakthrough product about which the world needs to hear, but also when a monthly presentation is being made to a small internal team of executives.
Pink borrows and mutates a great phrase from E.M. Forster. ”The queen died and the king died are facts. The queen died and the king died of a broken heart is a story.”
We are in the age of the storyteller.