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The cure for boring content: Tell a story and call me in the morning

There’s a sickness that’s ailing too many CEOs, executives,marketers and leaders.

I call it factitis.

It’s a common condition in which the patient has criticalinformation and well-reasoned facts they wish to communicate to an audience.

Burdened with this information, the patient believes he cansimply state the facts in a public forum (like LinkedIn, for example), and good things will happen. Employees will be inspired. Customers will line up to spend their money. People will be persuaded to change their behavior.

So the patient does that. And nothing happens. And theybecome sad. It’s tragic, really. But there is a cure. Just ask a doctor.

I did.

The Cure: More Stories

Patrick Ober, MD, is an endocrinologist, professor at WakeForest University School of Medicine, and a real-live, totally legit doctor. I asked him how to cure factitis. “I would submit that stories are essential,” he told me.

Okay, quick confession. I didn’t really ask him how to cureof factitis. He probably would have said that it’s not a real disease.

But I did ask him about how he uses stories in his medicalpractice. In many ways, his need to communicate information to a patient parallels how you might need to communicate facts to employees, customers, donors, partners, etc.

Ober says that stories are central to his approach to practicingmedicine. “As a physician, I have to know who (the patient is). I don’t just do a technical thing. I’m not rotating tires on a car,” he said. “To do right by my patient, I have to know where they’re coming from and what their values are.”

He also said that using stories is also good for him. “I canbecome a very mechanical person if I lose my humanity,” he added. “It’s good for me to know that story, to know who (the patient) is.”

People are not information receptacles. They’re not machinesthat respond reliably when fed dry information.

You can convey information. Or you can teach, inspire, andpersuade. There's a big difference.

If you want to make an impact on your audience, whether theyare students, customers, employees, shareholders, or anyone else, you need to do more than just relay information.

You may think your product is great, or that your servicesolves important problems, but just saying so isn't enough. It’s just not interesting.

People learn, become inspired, and are persuadedthrough stories, emotion, engagement, and knowing that you care.


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