The Moth: a bright idea that can help you influence better

 Apr 22, 2015

In a recent training session I was conducting on Effective Influencing and Persuasion, one of the participants asked me if I could recommend a book on storytelling so she could expand on what we had just gone through. There are quite a few storytelling ‘how-to’ books on the market but I often find it is good to model what other good storytellers do, so I suggested “The Moth.”

Before I tell you about “The Moth,” let me tell you why stories are so important. As human beings, we are wired for stories. Our minds gather pieces of evidence and make them into stories; a couple of bad things happen in a row and “God must be against us” (for example). Children learn through fairy tales and fables, and it is definitely easier to remember facts in a story line than in a list of items.

Stories help to influence, so being a good story teller is an asset to leaders, especially in business. Whatever you are trying get people to buy into is likely to be more digestible with a ‘real’ story attached. From my own experience, I have been marked down in training sessions where I have failed to provide ‘real-world’ examples.

Think of good leaders in your organisation; do they tell stories…or at least, provide examples?

So what is “The Moth”?

The Moth is a not-for-profit organisation that was started in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green. Green wanted to recreate the story telling exploits of him and his childhood friends in Georgia, where they would sit around the porch light telling tales and moths would buzz toward the lights. He took the idea to New York and now has a radio show and podcasts around it.

In 2013, The Moth: 50 True Stories went to number 22 on the New York Times best seller list. It is the actual transcripts of the spoken narratives of the storytellers. It does lose a little bit when you read a spoken story, as opposed to one that has been written for readership from the get go. The stories in “The Moth” are still very readable because they have been well crafted and set a good template for storytelling and story styles.

If you want to ‘hear’ stories and the way that good storytellers ply their craft then visit themoth.org - it has a great deal of audio and video stories and also, gives advice on storytelling.

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters' degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor's degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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