Sometimes I can be a bit dense and I realized this was the case when I read Peter Guber’s book, TELL TO WIN. You see, I was expecting a “how to” book on storytelling, and it took me about half way through the book to realize that was never Guber’s intention. This is more of a “when to” book than it is a “how to” book. The overall premise here is that you will have much greater success in telling a story than you will by reciting facts and figures.
Let’s face it, we’ve all sat through hideously boring presentations where someone obtained all sorts of information and numbers from the accounting department showing what the projected numbers might be by implementing this change or strategy. The presenter did an exceptional job of putting together a power point presentation to support their hypothesis, and even spoke with enthusiasm. But really now, how enthusiastic are you after having your mind numbed for an hour or more listening to projected numbers?
For example, rather than telling a group of production supervisors, “If we automate this process, we can reduce production time by 15 minutes and 34 seconds per day, thereby resulting in overall annual production cost savings of $XXX,” you would replace it with a story such as “Farmer John found that by automating his production process, he was able to buy more land and his chickens were much happier.” Of course that is an oversimplified example, but you get the idea.
Guber stresses what he calls “emotional transportation”. Through years of involvement in the movie industry, telling stories, Guber details the importance of getting emotional buy-in from the audience. To achieve what he refers to as emotional transportation, your story must have four elements; a hero the audience can identify with and get behind, drama, a moment of truth (ahha moment!), and what Guber calls the “me-to-we” factor that connects the teller with the audience.
Speaking of ahha moments, each chapter of the book, of which there are nine (although mine was an uncorrected proof of the book and the final edit may be slightly different) concludes with an ahha summary of the lessons each chapter contains.
The work is divided into two parts. Part one is “There’s no business without story business” and Part two is “The Art of the Tell”. I found part two to be a bit of a disappointment as Guber really doesn’t go into any detail on how to refine your story or tell a better story, so the “Art” part is missing. Parhaps a better title here would be, “Knowing when to tell”.
Throughout the book, Guber tells bits and pieces of stories he has used or heard others use in a business setting to reach their objective. The book is well written and helpful, although I want to stress again this is not a “how to” book on giving better speeches. There are plenty of other books available for that. If you are in a position of having to persuade others to your buy into your idea, this book will be a big help to you.