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Books: The Power of a Good Story

By Kimberly Charron, CMA
May 1, 2018
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At a time of data overload and short attention spans, one of the most important professional skills we can develop is the ability to tell a good story. Think back to the last presentation you attended.

 

Do you remember the details? Probably not, but you may remember an anecdote or example the speaker used to inform or influence you in some way. Esther Choy’s Let the Story Do the Work provides an easy-to-follow framework to master the art of telling a compelling story and making an impact.

 

 

Using what she refers to as a three-act formula, Choy guides the reader through the elements of using narratives and visuals effectively and provides instructive examples of the principles at work. At its core, the formula hinges on an understanding that connecting with your audience and eliciting an emotional response are the foundations of any story. You don’t want your audience just to think about facts you’re presenting—you want them to act.

 

In business school, we’re taught to provide solid facts. But Choy reminds us that “people will not care about how much you know until they know about how much you care.” Even with the prevalence of Big Data and analytics, a connection is needed to what data means and why anyone should care. The story you tell demonstrates the value proposition of the data and provides the inspiration for action.

 

Choy helps you practice and master the art of storytelling with an outline of the learning process. She also describes the five basic plots in business communication:

 

  • Origin
  • Rags to Riches
  • Rebirth
  • Overcoming the Monster
  • The Quest

 

With the fill-in-the-blank outlines of each story type, you can drop in your information and start the process of becoming a better storyteller. Choy also provides six simple story pictures that even the unartistic can master. When combined with the story, they can increase a presentation’s effectiveness.

 

Practices become habit, so have a pen handy when you work through this book, and your storytelling skills will inspire people to act and have them aspiring to do greater things.

 

Kimberly Charron, CMA, is associate professor and director of the MS in Accounting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a member of the Las Vegas Chapter and can be reached at kim.charron@unlv.edu.
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