When Justina Chen speaks at schools in rough neighborhoods, she used to tell a story about the racism she faced during the year she lived in Sydney, Australia.
When the novelist, consultant and former Microsoft executive communicator was out jogging, drivers sometimes shouted racial slurs out car windows at her. (She is Asian.) One day a man in a business suit spat in her face.
After telling her young audience about this, she would ask, “Has this ever happened to you?” she says in the Ragan Training video, “Enthrall: Seven secrets of storytelling.”
They were immediately hooked, recounting racist incidents they had faced. Chen had engaged their attention, she says, but the emotion was all wrong. She was connecting but not inspiring. She retired the stories about Australia.
We all know that storytelling carries power in communications. But how to find the right story—one that doesn’t just grab people’s attention, but matches the marketing efforts, the data and the facts?