Don Hewitt's Legacy: Powerful Storytelling

Linda Dulye's picture
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When Don Hewitt, the creator the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, passed away recently, we lost a giant who fundamentally changed the way news organizations reported the news.

Hewitt’s vision for 60 Minutes was simple: “Tell me a story,” he’d encourage his reporters.

Great storytelling isn’t just for broadcast television; it can be a pivotal piece of effective workplace communications too.

When Hewitt envisioned 60 Minutes, he understood that reporting news doesn’t necessarily mean that people remember it, understand it or even buy into it. Same goes for communication in organizations. That's why nothing can get a memorable point across like an illustration or story.

It provides relevance. It helps to forge a relationship between a manager and his or her staff -- because the manager usually opens up just a little bit personally to share a story, that alone makes a manager more of a "real" person than merely a boss.

Here are some simple techniques for maximizing your storytelling prowess:

  1. Tell stories that you like to tell. If you can’t get excited about telling it or are unsure that it packs the punch you’re looking for, then keep looking.
  2. Don’t get bored with your material. If your signature tale conveys a powerful message or lesson, don’t be afraid to tell it again and again.
  3. Have a constructive or positive ending to your story. Not all stories end on a high note but they can result in a positive outcome. Share the lesson you learned from a tough experience.
  4. Make sure the story you’re telling is appropriate for the group you’re sharing it with. Know who you’re communicating with is rule number-one.
  5. Listen to how other people tell stories. What works and what doesn’t? Note what drew you into the story – and what kept you interested.

Remember: You don't have to be as skilled as a 60 Minutes correspondent to tell an effective story; but becoming a strong storyteller can give you another powerful tool in your communications toolkit.

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