From Aesop's fablesto Jesus' parables, we've heard these types of stories our whole life. The fable is both powerful and easy to implement. Here's why you should consider using them the next time you want to focus on a truth and reinforce the core values of your corporate culture.
Fables and parables are fictional stories used to focus on a core value, a moral, or an extended metaphor to help the audience understand a situation better. Once they are able to see the truth or the core value in the fictional story, they can also see how their approach to a current business issue should be no different.
Fables are Powerful
Even with the simplest of short stories, we always look for the "why" in it. In other words, why is this important? What is the lesson to be learned here? When our minds are taken to a fictional place, we lower our inhibitions. We lower our guard.
When a leader speaks in actual stories from the workplace, sometimes it can be too close to the audience. In other words, everyone has an opinion on the event being described. If you're in the accounting department and the story is about the sales team closing a big deal, you may feel disconnected from the importance of it, the sales team loves the story, and the marketing department feels like they should be getting some of the credit fo the win!
The power of the fable lies in the simplicity and the escape from the everyday reality. That escape allows the listener to forget the whirlwind of the real world for a moment and just focus on the deeper meaning, the moral, or the lesson to be applied.
Fables are Easy to Find
Anyone can find a fable. Why is that? Because they're everywhere! For those people who tell us in our workshops, "But, I don't have any stories to tell!"... there are no more excuses!
Fables can be mined from the internet with ease. Just google Aesop's Fablesand you'll find a complete listing.
Fables are Easy to Deliver
Fables are extremely short, which is what most audiences want! There's not much to them and they are easy to commit to memory. Fables don't need to be memorized word for word. In fact, when told with your own words, they can be more engaging to your audience because you sound more natural.
Since they are so short and easy to imagine, they're hard for the presenter to forget! You'll find them easy to commit to memory and even easier to give away.
Fables are Fun
They're fun because they give the audience permission to escape briefly from reality. It gives the audience permission to enter a world where a mouse can have a conversation with a lion. While we know this is impossible, it unleashes our creativity when we get to imagine this.
One of the keys to being an engaging speaker is to engage 3 areas of the mind, the intellect, the emotion, and the imagination. Choose the right fable and it will give you a short-cut to all three of these.
Fables Provide Truth in Simplicity
The true power of the fable lies in the truth of the message. Regardless of the animal solving the problem in the story, we can see the truth in the message. Truth transcends all.
There is something so powerful about realizing the message of the story is not simply an interesting story, a learning lesson, or an opinion... it's a truth.
Now tie it back to the lesson...
After the fable is delivered, the leader needs to tie it back to the current business situation and what it means to the organization. If it reinforces the culture, point that out. If it provides a gentle reminder of another time when the ethics were stronger, show it. If it gives the hope of a new direction based on a strong core value, give it.
I challenge you to bring a truth into an upcoming presentation with either a parable or a fable. Engage your audience, give them permission to imagine, and bring them back to truth.
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Russ Peterson Jr. is the co-founder and Managing Director of iSpeak, Inc. - An award-winning professional development training company. Russ is a speaker, international trainer, and published authoron Professional Sales Communication and Business Communication. He delivers workshops, keynotes, and personal communication coaching services to business professionals in the US and around the world. His leadership blog assists leaders in giving voice to their vision. You can connect with Russ directly through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.