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Dude Where's My Car ... and Other Stories!

Cartoon car

I attended the FEI conference in Niagara Falls last week, which is designed for Canadian Financial Executives (#FEICanada2014).  I learned quite a few things, including the fact that accountants certainly DO know how to have fun!

One of the lessons I walked away with was a reminder that stories are a great way to engage people, and are far more memorable than facts or statistics.   At this point I could relay the story about waking up on Friday morning, following a night that did not end until 3am-ish and wondering where I had actually ended up parking my car the night before.  The story would involve last minute hotel changes (courtesy of the Marriot who gave my room away) parking at a different hotel, parking at the conference centre and not being exactly sure which spot my car was by the time Friday morning rolled around!  Of course we all have had stories like that … haven’t we?

I digress because two of the most powerful speakers at the conference were the very first speaker and the very last speaker, because they told stories that were memorable and engaging (even on that Friday afternoon when a nap was definitely calling me)!

Maureen Sabia is Chairman of the Board for Canadian Tire and has a wealth of experience on public boards.  When she is able to relate stories of CFOs who felt they could “spoon feed” her information they felt she should get, and their rapid departure from the role … it gets your attention!  When she can tell stories of instructing very senior CFOs about her, very clear requirements of them … it is interesting stuff.  She did not just tell the facts; she illustrated them with real life experiences.

Vince Molinaro (@VinceMolinaro) is a Managing Director at Knightsbridge and his presentation on leadership was underpinned by a story that he told of a leader who had a profound effect on him.   The personalization of the presentation made it more real, made it more memorable and made a (tired) audience sit up and listen on a Friday afternoon.

Next time you want to communicate a message think about this.  Whether it a presentation to a group, a meeting with a client or even a one on one session with an employee … if you can tell a story to represent your point it will become more real for the listener, and they just might remember it!

Of course if they went to bed at 3am after partying with a bunch of Canada’s finest accountants their memory might be just a little fuzzy!

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world  today.” Robert McKee