In a recent post I talked about the power of storytelling. This week I’m turning my attention to the seven deadly sins that can impact on all of our stories in a negative way, and I’m going to suggest some approaches for dealing with them.
Based on the original seven deadly sins, I thought I’d apply these to storytelling so that you always deliver the very best stories that you possibly can.
As a reminder, the seven deadly sins are:
- Lust, and
Wrath – more commonly known as anger in today’s lexicon: Storytelling is a great way to engage your teams and staff but only when it’s delivered in a calm and appropriate manner.
Never deliver a story when you’re angry and certainly don’t deliver a story that has an underlying angry message. Be powerful in your delivery but don’t attack. Be supportive and seek improvement; don’t criticise failings.
Sloth: Whatever you do, put a bit of effort and passion into your storytelling! Carefully prepare the content of your story and polish the delivery – don’t just throw it out there and hope for the best. Great storytellers vary the tone and speed of their voice and they embellish the story with hand gestures. Don’t be lazy – the more effort you put into your story then the better the overall result will be.
Gluttony: A great story is like a great meal – you don’t want it all, but you need just enough to satisfy your appetite. Don’t try and fill your story with every conceivable nuance or detail. Keep it slim and to the point. Just like a well-crafted joke, your story should contain little or no fat but should retain all the elements to maintain impact.
Greed: Treat your story with respect. Use it appropriately in your communications and – for the most part – tell one story really well rather than tell two poorly. Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement speech was a master class of storytelling. Steve said, “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.” Steve was spot on – a life in just three stories. So don’t be greedy – fewer is better.
Pride: Encourage others to tell stories and praise them for their efforts. Don’t let your story become more important than other people’s stories – all stories have their place. And don’t think that just because you’re the boss you’ll always have the best stories – because you won’t.
Lust: This sin is all about longing for power and fame so don’t let your story go to your head. Don’t try and seek fame or fortune from your story alone. Remember that you’re telling your story to achieve a positive result, not to be self-promotional, so make sure that it’s your story that’s famous and not you.
Envy: Freely share your stories with others – don’t just covert your own. Other people may not tell your story as well as you do but remember it’s the message and the influence that’s important – not just who tells the story.
Storytelling is a powerful way to convey messages and passion and achieve a positive change. Watch out for the seven deadly sins and your stories are bound to be better than ever – and that’s not pride, that’s a fact!