What’s Going On in This Picture?

By / Corporate Storytelling

What’s Going On in This Picture?

Published on May 5, 2016

A friend of mine sent me the image above and I chuckled, but I wasn’t even sure why.  Then, I clicked on the link because I wanted to know what was going on in that picture.  Then I spent another 10 minutes reading other interesting information at that link.  “What am I doing?!” I thought.  “I am wasting time!”  It wasn’t completely my fault, though.  My brain was falling victim to curiosity. Curiosity is a great thing when it comes to learning.  It can also be a useful tool when it comes to persuasion and managing your audience’s attention.

My question for you: do you use curiosity as a tool in persuasion?

Storytelling is a big buzz word these days, but not all storytelling is created equal.  Some stories are so good that they make movies out of them or sell millions of copies of books about them.  Unfortunately, some stories are able to put us to sleep.  Stories only work when they create some level of curiosity.  The listener needs to be curious about where the story is going and then they have to be curious about why you are telling them that story.  These are positives, but it’s up to you to create that curiosity.  You might have a story about the founding of your company or about a past customer success but if they don’t generate curiosity in the mind if your audience, they may not be helping.  They may be lulling your audience to sleep, like a bed time story.

When your company’s story isn’t that interesting, you may have to rely on other stories to make your point in an interesting way that creates curiosity.  You might need to tell a story about an experience you had on a plane to make your point about something to do with your technology.  There is a connection there, but it isn’t obvious… at first.  That’s the point.  When you start talking about your plane trip, the listener starts to think, “Why is he/she talking about a ride on a plane?  We are here to understand how they can help solve our problems.”  That’s exactly where you want them.  You want them wondering, “Why?”  For this reason though, you have to be brief and relate that story to your real point quickly.  When you do that, they will have the “Aha!” moment and you might even see light bulbs flicker on above their heads.

As an example of this, I’ll share a story that a client of mine in Mexico used for an important meeting she had with the key decision maker at her customer.  She said something like this:

“I have to fly a lot for my job and I have never been afraid of flying… until now.  When I got on my last flight, I saw the pilot and he looked younger than me.  He was significantly younger than me.  That made me nervous.  The pilots always used to look older than me, or at least it felt that way to me.  An older looking pilot is comforting to me because I assume they have seen every problem there is to see.  They have flown in all kinds of storms and dealt with every technical problem that could pop up and they survived them all.  That pilot can identify problems before they become *big* problems.  When it comes to the (project) you are about to start, what if you were able to work with a company that was like that experienced pilot?  They could ensure that you finish on time and on budget because they have seen all of the common problems that can arise and they know how to avoid them or fix them quickly.  Our company has the most experience with this type of project in this industry.  We are like that pilot.  I’d like to tell you a little bit about our experience in this area and how it relates to you…”


In that example, the story is not about her company but it makes a point about her company and in a way that creates curiosity when she tells it.  It gets the audience to listen closer and pay attention instead of checking their cell phones or day dreaming about what they are going to do for lunch that day.

There are many ways to create curiosity in the minds of your audience that don’t involve stories.  For now though, I’d like you to ask yourself: when it comes to storytelling are you creating curiosity in the mind if your audience?

To see this in action, take a look at one of past workshop attendees giving a TED Talk in Glasgow Scotland (link).  If you would like to know how to do this, we have a workshop coming up in Boston on Sep 13-14.  Click here to sign up.

– In this earlier post from our Articulus Corporate Storytelling Group in LinkedIn, we linked to an article how curiosity is an important aspect of how our brains learn.  Click that link to dive into more detail about the science behind curiosity.  If you want to read a good book about curiosity and how to use it for a tool for your own learning and career development, there is a good book by Brian Grazer (Hollywood producer) about curiosity called: A Curious Mind.
– If you want to know what is going on with the Tiger click here, but please come back and comment because I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. 😉

Brian O’Keefe is a Corporate Storyteller at Articulus, Inc..  He can help you get to the heart of your message and tell your story in a compelling way. He coaches sales teams on how to “get to the point” and find the heart of their message, so that they win more business. 

Follow him on  LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianokeefe1
or on Twitter @bri_okeefe

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