Attendees at the Midsize Enterprise Summit Fall Conference in Austin were treated to an engaging keynote presentation on Sunday by Jason Allen Ashlock, master story teller and founding partner of Frontier Press, the next-generation publishing unit of The Frontier Project.
Ashlock teaches corporate and celebrity clients around the world how to effectively tell their stories to achieve a better connection with target audiences.
“Unleashing inner stories can motivate your constituents to behave differently as a result,” said Ashlock, whose firm helps companies transform the way they connect with their employees, business partners, and customers in their communications and through learning and development efforts.
Whether a CIO wants to attract more support from the C-suite, to form better connections with partners, to attract the best talent or to form stronger connections with current employees, Ashlock explained how effective story telling can bring together different individuals to a common experience.
“The key is to create powerful narratives to creatively get done what needs to get done,” said Ashlock, who outlined different tools and methods to help MES attendees better understand, define and tell their story. “Story can open conversation and create dialogue more effectively than anything else can.”
Ashlock encouraged the CIO attendees at MES to consider using story to create better rapport with key stakeholders or employees with whom they don’t necessarily have a strong bond or an effective relationship today. He suggested opening up with an emotionally appropriate and intellectually compelling story that can help people to better understand and relate to you or your organization.
But it’s not enough to just tell any story because without relevance and ability to achieve empathy and understanding with the target audience, story will not work.
Also important to note is that stories typically need to change over time to remain relevant. This is particularly true after an organizational change like a team reorganization or when adding new hires. Thus, taking stock to see if a story still is relevant over time is key.
Ashlock dissected and analyzed the elements of story and showed the audience how every great story has a classic flow and methodology, citing numerous examples from pop culture and Hollywood to illustrate and re-enforce the formulas he outlined.
“Story telling is a native language to us, but most of us have forgotten what it is to own a story as our own and how to effectively communicate it in today’s world filled with so much social media and digital conversation,” he said.
Ashlock further explained how stories can bring together different individuals to a common experience, with the sum of a story being greater than is parts and coming together to make an impression when the story is told. He outlined the most classic formula involving four pivot points to help define and tell a story that will change actions and behaviors when a story is told well.
The presentation was well received, as evidenced by the many attendees who stopped to have a conversation with Ashlock after his presentation and at the official MES welcome reception immediately afterwards as the first day’s MES formal agenda drew to an end.
Janice Cain, MBA, is an award-winning marketing consultant and PR advisor who has been working extensively in the IT industry for more than 10 years with some of the world’s best known software and hardware companies. Follow her @1010_Marketing