People remember stories, not facts and figures, according to Patti Anesetti. “In this busy world of today, so much information and detail is communicated to us that often presentations tend to be a data dump,” says Anesetti, of TaskLogic Group LLC. But those “data dumps” are often forgotten as soon as the next set of facts and statistics comes along. The way to persuade people as well as to teach them is to make your case through stories.
Anesetti, who is the founder and president of the Mahwah-based consulting company, will present, “Storytelling — A Leadership Competency for HR Professionals,” at the dinner meeting of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) on Monday, January 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency. Cost: $50. Registration can be made online at http://hrma-nj.shrm.org. The event has been approved for one strategic recertification credit by the HR Certification Institute.
Anesetti is an organizational development consultant to numerous Fortune 500 companies. She manages high-profile engagements for internal and external clientele. She is credited with improving the profitability, market share, and operational effectiveness of global organizations, where she has consistently increased productivity by a minimum of 50 percent in all of her engagements.
She facilitates more than 60 custom-designed and licensed workshops and is the creator of proprietary programs.
A native of New York, Anesetti received a bachelor’s degree in education from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Buffalo in 1983. “I wanted to make an impact in adult education,” she says, so she joined Manufacturers Hanover as a trainer. “I moved logically from training to organizational development to coaching,” she explains, and eventually opened TaskLogic 11 years ago.
Anesetti also holds a master of science in educational technology and adult learning from Ramapo College, is certified in distance learning, is a certified coach, and holds a number of professional program certifications. She has been an active member of ASTD and SHRM.
Statistics Only the Backdrop. “We know that using data and metrics is a surefire way for human resources professionals to elevate their game and demonstrate that they can talk the same language as business leaders.
“But PowerPoint slides, data, and metrics should only be the backdrop to the story we use to make our case,” says Anesetti. “Facts aren’t influential and don’t change how people think until they mean something to someone. It is the power of the story that converts data into engaging, enlightened, and interesting discussion.”
Being able to tell a good story is the critical element in any presentation or conversation where a person wants to make a point, gain support, or influence someone. Understanding the right tools to tell the story effectively in any situation helps people to craft compelling stories that engage and influence others. “Always give as much information as you can,” says Anesetti, but also remember that the way in which that information is presented is important.
Anesetti adds that there is often a lack of connection in communication between people in technical fields and those in marketing or administration.
Big Picture vs. Technical Details. The divide isn’t just between people in different parts of a company, but between people with differing styles of communication. Anesetti discusses the “big picture” people versus those whose orientation is technical and detailed.
“When you begin a meeting with someone it is important to quickly pick up on their style and then communicate your information to them in the way that they will best understand and appreciate it,” she says.
Learn to Listen. Of course, telling a good story is only half the battle. Learning to listen is the other, equally important part. There are many sensitive situations that can be eased by paying attention to what other people in the room have to say.
“Each person must learn to communicate their knowledge and information in a way that other people will understand it,” she says. “We don’t all hear or process information in the same way.” That means that it is always important to listen to other people and to assess how they are perceiving your message.
Storytelling Techniques. One way to “invite instant involvement” is to begin a presentation by asking a question. Helping listeners to feel involved early in the presentation will help them to remain engaged, and to feel a part of the solution you present.
Anesetti also mentions “power words and phrases,” or words that make the listener sit up and take notice. There are literally thousands of possible power words and phrases, and they differ from industry to industry. Find which words work best in your industry, and for you personally, and make them a part of your presentation, she suggests.
Anesetti recommends using case studies as a part of a presentation, though she notes that she does not mean the traditional case study. Instead, she uses the phrase to denote stories that illustrate specific issues, problems, or solutions. A third technique she mentions is the use of anecdotes and analogies. These short mini-stories are another useful tool to change presentations from dry lists of facts and figures to stories that are remembered and retold.
Human resource professionals should learn to “understand the business case for using storytelling,” and they should also identify their own HR stories and learn how to leverage them effectively to increase HR credibility with company leaders. “Storytelling is the human side of information. We are all touched by emotion. Learning a storytelling model will help you breathe life into your HR data and message,” she says.