And finally, we have to make our messages emotional. Emotion is very important. [Shahid] here at Stanford, John Hyde at the University of Virginia, they’ve all been using this metaphor, which is brilliant. Most of you have probably heard about it, the rider and the elephant. If you think about the way the brain processes information, the left brain wants the data, the analysis, logic. That’s the rider, the person steering the elephant. The right brain, or the emotional part of the brain, it’s the elephant. The rider thinks he’s in control, left brain thinks it’s in control, but where the rider wants to go that’s where inspiration ultimately occurs.
John Medina at the University of Washington made it even simpler for me. He said, “Carmine, the brain does not pay attention to boring things”. He said the brain is not programmed to grasp abstract concepts.
Okay, so how do we get past that? How do we make a presentation emotional? Tell stories. Nobody in corporate America tells stories anymore. Stories are undervalued, they’re under appreciated, they’re under utilized, tell stories. Marissa Mayer the new CEO of Yahoo, former VP of Google, guess what she does in presentations? She tells stories, and she’s considered very charismatic. Somebody I know, at a very large company, saw an internal presentation given by Marissa Meyer. And he came up to me a few weeks later, and he said, “Carmine, it was amazing. She spoke like 45 minutes, and she only used 10 slides”.
And I asked him, “How did she do that?”
“Well, let’s see, oh, she told stories!” No kidding, stories. Tell stories. You can tell stories about your product, how it came to be. You can tell personal stories, you can tell stories about customers. A case study is a story. And when you — we’re going to get to this in a minute, when you tell stories, like Marissa Mayer when she tells stories, she uses visual slides to complement her stories. The slides are not the story. The slides simply complement the story.
Stories are powerful. I spoke to this gentleman last year, his name is Bryan Stevenson. Bryan Stevenson gave a TED lecture. At the end of that lecture, he inspired the audience to donate $1 million to his non-profit, The Equal Justice Initiative. He is passionate about social justice. He argues cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he won a landmark case last year. It is now unconstitutional to impose a mandatory life sentence on a juvenile, on someone convicted as a juvenile. Thanks to Mr. Stevenson. We had a conversation about communications. Guess what he said? “Carmine, I don’t know what to tell you. You say I’m charismatic. That’s great, I’m flattered. I don’t know, I just get up there and tell stories”. No kidding, that’s why! You’re making an emotional connection with people. You tell stories.
In this lecture, I’m going to show you a clip. He started with a story about his grandmother. He tied it into the theme, the power of identity. He says a lot of poor, underprivileged kids in a lot of communities across America don’t have identity. So how do you connect that with your audience? Let me tell a story about it. So he tells the story of his grandmother, who when he was 11 years old, I believe, pulled him aside and said, “Brian, I think you’re special”. And then she asked him to make a promise. The promise was never to drink alcohol. He said, hey, I was 11 years old, I didn’t have anything to lose. Sure, why not? “I’ll never drink alcohol, Grandma”.
Here’s how he picks up the story.
[Video Clip Starts:
I grew up in the country, in the rural south, and I have a brother a year older than me, and a sister a year younger. And when I was about 14 or 15, one day my brother came home and he had this six pack of beer. I don’t know where he got it. And he grabbed me and my sister and we went out in the woods. We were kind of just out there doing the stuff we crazily did. And he had a sip of this beer and he gave some to my sister. And she had some, and they offered it to me. I said no, no, no, no that’s okay. Ya’ll go ahead, I’m not going to have any beer. My brother said, come on we’re doing this today! You always do what we do. I had some, your sister had some. Have some beer. I said, no I don’t feel right that, ya’ll go ahead, ya’ll go ahead. And then my brother started staring at me. He said, what’s wrong with you? Have some beer. Then he looked at me real hard, he said, oh I hope you’re not still hung up on that conversation mama had with you. I said, well, what are you talking about? He says, well mama tells all the grandkids that they’re special. I was devastated. And I’m going to admit something to you. I’m going to tell you something that I probably shouldn’t. I know this might be broadcast broadly, but I’m 52 years old, and I’m going to admit to you that I have never had a drop of alcohol. I don’t say that because I think that’s virtuous. I say that because there is power in identity.
– Video Clip Ends]