One of Hollywood's top screenwriting coaches Robert Mckee has a PhD in cinema arts. His students have written, directed and produced award-winning films like Forrest Gump, Erin Brockovich, Gandhi, and many others. Mckee feels that executives can engage listeners on whole new level if they toss out their PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead, because 'stories fulfil a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living — not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional, experiences'. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into narration but you also rouse your listener's emotions and energy. Storytelling is related to management.
The monomyth of the hero's journey is the common template of the tales of one who goes on an adventure, faces a crisis, wins a victory and then comes home transformed. Consider that Gautam Buddha, Moses, Sri Ramachandra, the Pandavas and Christ are all stated to experience monomyth stories.
Think of the best lessons you have learnt about soft subjects like character, self-esteem and honesty. Almost always, the lesson is associated with an anecdote from your own experiences, is an interaction with somebody you respect or is a story told by another. That is why stories are a very important way of teaching and imparting knowledge, especially about fuzzy and complex subjects. When it comes to ethical and religious studies and subjects such as good character, good citizenry, good social values, and so on, storytelling is effective.
The drama of human emotion is a great prespective for ideas because both the idea and the drama get indelibly etched in your mind — the selflessness of Hanuman, the righteousness of Yudhisthira, Aesop's hare and tortoise, the love between Heer and Ranjha, and so on. The strong connection between learning on the hand, and anecdotes and stories on the other, is because an idea is united with an emotion.
This is an extract from R Gopalakrishnan's Biography of Innovations published by Penguin Random House