Does business need more and better storytellers?
Presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article published with permission from Knowledge@Wharton, the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In his new book, “Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get From Good to Great,” Carmine Gallo explains why he doesn’t consider good communication a soft skill.
“In this age of artificial intelligence, globalization, automation — the one skill that can separate you not only from the technology that we create, but from your peers is mastering the ancient art of persuasion,” Mr. Gallo said on a recent Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM. “Combining words and ideas to ignite people’s imagination.”
Communicating through storytelling and empathy has historically proven to be the best way brains process information. Unfortunately, an over-reliance on modern communication tools such as text, e-mail or PowerPoint loses that level of connection.
Effective communication tactics, according to Mr. Gallo, date back to Aristotle’s three-part formula for persuasion:
- Ethos – credibility and character in the speaker
- Logos – a logical structure to an argument, such as backing data
- Pathos – emotions
Ethos and logos are both required since persuading with only emotion doesn’t offer enough structure. But, pathos is the most critical element and often missing today. Mr. Gallo said, “Everything about human nature — from the stock market to where we invest to how we vote — is based on our emotional narratives that we tell each other as groups and within individuals.”
The book includes interviews with several top executives on the topic including a Google executive explaining how the company is transforming its culture to become better storytellers to make sure the information they communicate is understandable and memorable.
Communication skills have also become more critical for career advancement. Mr. Gallo cited a global LinkedIn survey of recruiters and hiring that showed 94 percent felt an individual with good experience and exceptional communications skills was more likely to be elevated to a position of leadership than someone with better experience and weaker verbal skills.
“Today more than ever, entrepreneurs and business leaders need to be able to excite people about a vision and bring people into that journey,” said Mr. Gallo. “That’s a skill that sets people apart.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are interpersonal communication skills more important in an increasingly technology-driven world or less? What tips do you have on how to become a more persuasive communicator?