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Lead with a Story

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Lead with a Story

A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Put away the PowerPoint, graphs and charts. If you want people to listen, tell them a story.

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  • Applicable


Once upon a time, young manager Paul Smith worked diligently to prepare a slide presentation for the CEO of Procter & Gamble, A. G. Lafley. To Smith’s dismay, Lafley sat with his back to the screen and didn’t glance at the slides, choosing instead to focus solely on Smith. This taught Smith a valuable lesson: A fact-based pitch never works as well as a story. In this helpful manual, Smith offers more than 100 stories readers can use in a variety of business situations. He teaches the basics of storytelling, including examples and exercises. Smith’s easy and absorbing manner draws you into each tale. getAbstract recommends that managers, salespeople and presenters read this charming compilation, from its useful instructions all the way to its happily ever after.


Story Time

One day Jim, a young research and development employee at Procter & Gamble (P&G), decided to change his dull, data-filled monthly memo. He composed a story about Earnest Engineer to present his statistics. The memo was a big hit. Jim’s subsequent memos included such characters as Max Profit, Sella Case and Ed Zecutive. The stories attracted a loyal following throughout the company. Storytelling boosts any communication, even a statistician’s report.

Stories are the best way to engage people because they are “simple” and “timeless.” Stories reach all demographics and “all types of learners,” and are “contagious,” easy to recall and inspiring. They fit workplace learning, “put the listener in a mental learning mode” and “show respect for the audience.”

Basic Story Components

The basic components of a story, expressed by the mnemonic CAR, are “Context, Action, Result.” The context is the story’s environment and plot. Context explains:

  1. “Background” – What is the story’s setting, location and time frame?
  2. “Subject” – Who is the primary person in the plot?
  3. “Treasure”

About the Author

Paul Smith, a public speaker and leadership coach, is director of Consumer & Communication Research at Procter & Gamble.

Comment on this summary

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    A. M. 2 weeks ago
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    K. K. 4 months ago
    Thank you, Paul Smil, for the great story. It inspires me to narrate a story and take an action. I'm a great storyteller.
  • Avatar
    E. P. 7 months ago
    Very Good~!

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