May 14, 2012

Management & Leadership: Why Leaders Should Tell Stories

A woman from the audience followed me into the hallway. "I think we’re married to the same man,†she said. Successfully fighting the urge to fire off the snappy reply, "Could be. I travel a lot,†I simply smiled back. I’d heard this before.

I had been introduced as a change-leadership coach who’s married to a man who refuses to change anything. So, during my speech, I told humorous stories about the resistance my husband puts up and how I’ve learned to handle his protests.

And every time I give this speech, it’s inevitable that audience members come up to me to comment on my husband. Many recognize their co-workers or loved ones (or themselves) in him, and some (like the woman whose own spouse’s behavior so resembled mine) jokingly commiserate with me. The thing I find most intriguing about this phenomenon is that in my 25 years of professional speaking, no one has ever approached me after a program to say they most appreciated my second bullet point, or maybe my fifth bullet point.

That’s because they apparently don’t remember bullet points. But they do remember the stories I tell.

Why is that?

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