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Leader's Guide to Storytelling

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Leader's Guide to Storytelling

Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Leave charts and graphs behind; wow your audience and achieve your business goals via the updated art of storytelling.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Stephen Denning has written a carefully reasoned, thought-provoking study of the use of storytelling as a powerful tool for leadership and innovation. He challenges traditional business approaches to management and persuasion, such as relying on analytic thinking, and facts and figures to convince an audience. Instead, Denning says, you can use well-scripted, well-constructed stories to achieve all your leadership goals, both inside and outside of your company. He carefully explains how to tell purposeful stories, and he even provides useful templates at the end of each chapter. The book is much too in-depth to be a handy "how to" manual; in fact, it is more of an enjoyable intellectual exercise because Denning weaves practical instruction within pages of theory. getAbstract recommends this book to leaders who want to extend their persuasive powers by learning to tell purposeful, impassioned stories.


Why Tell a Story?

Most people believe that businesses operate on a foundation of facts, figures and analysis. Yet, even the simplest narrative can spark the imagination and galvanize people into action better than dry data alone. That makes storytelling a tool leaders can use to transform numbers, research and analysis into compelling, motivating images.

Mastering the Art

Everyone has the capacity to tell a captivating story. You do not have to be a skilled actor to practice the performance art of storytelling. You do, however, need to master the four basic skills of storytelling: "style, truth, preparation and delivery." A simple, direct style is the most suitable approach for a business narrative. Speak as if you are talking to one individual, not a huge audience. Be straightforward, stay focused and do not prevaricate or digress. Most of all, be yourself and tell your story as if you are telling it for the first time.

Today’s audience members are cynical. They are accustomed to hearing spin, half-truths and even outright lies. Tell your story as truthfully and honestly as possible. Proceed on the assumption that what you are communicating is true, ...

About the Author

Stephen Denning also wrote The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations, and Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership Through Storytelling. He is a knowledge-management consultant with international clients including major corporations and the U.S. Army.

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