Inspirational Brand Storytelling From Richard Branson and Phil Knight

At Virgin and Nike, stories of the past inspire the innovations of the future.

Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is a big believer in the power of ideas to change the world, and an even bigger believer in the power of storytelling to draw out those ideas.

“The art of storytelling can be used to drive change,” says Branson. “Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a storyteller.” Continue reading

Whole Foods Founder Never Set Out To Start A “Normal” Company

This Forgotten Whole Foods Story Offers 1 Valuable Lesson For All Entrepreneurs

Lost among the media coverage of Amazon’s $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods is the fact that the organic grocery chain barely survived its first year in business. How it recovered is a lesson in purpose-driven entrepreneurship. Continue Reading

The 1 Skill That Movie Mogul Peter Guber Learned After A Failed Pitch

A failed business pitch taught movie mogul Peter Guber to start telling purposeful stories.

Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber had a lot to celebrate earlier this week as he joined the players on stage in front of adoring fans at Oakland’s Oracle Arena. The Warriors had beaten the Cavaliers in Game 5 to capture their second NBA championship in three years.

Guber, the chairman of Mandalay Entertainment, knows a great story when he sees it. “Stories have a unique power to move people’s hearts,” Guber wrote in his 2011 book, Tell to Win. Continue reading on

Why Creating A Culture Of Fearless Feedback Is A Good Thing

Create a culture where people have strong opinions and are encouraged to speak up.

In the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, Apple CEO Tim Cook is quoted as saying, “If you don’t feel comfortable disagreeing, then you will never survive.” Recalling his former boss, Cook said that Jobs would purposely take contrary positions to trigger more discussion “because it may lead to a better result.” Continue reading on

Unveil New Products the Apple Way

Apple unveils HomePod using a traditional and effective presentation formula.

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest business storytellers of our time. Apple executives clearly agree and do their best to adopt his presentation style.

Learn This Important Presentation Tip from Google’s CEO

Google’s Sundar Pichai gives a master class for creating simple, engaging presentations.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced at the company’s 2017 developers conference that Google is “rethinking all our products” as it moves from a mobile-first world to an “A.I.-first” one. His presentation also reflected a rethinking of traditional presentation style. Continue Reading

The Best Way to Keep Your Presentations Short and Engaging

TED speakers use a practical method to create short presentations from hundreds of pages of content.

In the last two weeks since the annual TED Talks conference, I’ve had the opportunity to speak directly to two of this year’s notable speakers. Both are professors who have written books with deep science. What they learned about condensing information to meet TED’s strict timeline is valuable advice for any communicator. Continue Reading

Simplify Complex Ideas the Warren Buffett Way

How the billionaire Warren Buffett uses a classic rhetorical technique to make the complex simple.

Last weekend, 40,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders descended on Omaha, Nebraska, to watch Warren Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, hold court. The two billionaire investors are as known for their wit, wisdom, and advice as they are for their stock picks.

“What is most remarkable about the annual meeting is the way Buffett, 86, and Munger, 93, distill their responses to complex, technical questions into eloquent and pithy nuggets of wisdom that even novice investors can understand,” wrote one financial reporter. Continue Reading

Overcome this Common Bias and Become a Better Speaker

People who excel at giving presentations or public speaking take specific steps to improve.

A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave us a glimpse into how successful leaders think. His advice: “Don’t be a know-it-all; be a learn-it-all.”

Cognitive psychologists are finding that there’s a lot of truth to that statement. They say that overcoming–or at least being aware–of some our inherent biases is the key to excelling in life and in business. Continue Reading on

The Pope’s TED talk Was a Surprise, His Moving Prose Was Not.

In his surprise TED 2017 presentation, Pope Francis relied on a proven rhetorical technique used by great writers and speakers.

The TED conference teased its audience with a “surprise guest” and they lived up to the billing. When Pope Francis took to the TED stage (remotely from his humble guest house in Vatican City), it lit up social media. But while the appearance might be surprising, the approach Francis took to writing his message isn’t a surprise to those who study the art of persuasion.

Francis is a fan of using a rhetorical device called the “Rule of Three.” It pervades the Bible as well as great speeches and literature throughout history. Continue reading

The Irresistible Appeal of Rags-to-Riches Stories

Social psychology explains why we never grow tired of hearing about an entrepreneurs’ rise from poverty.

In Pour Your Heart Into It, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz wrote, “The more uninspiring your origins, the more likely you are to use your imagination and invent worlds where everything seems possible.” Schultz came from uninspiring origins and he never grows tired of telling the story of his humble beginnings in books, interviews and public presentations. Continue Reading

Why Visuals Play A Crucial Role in Changing Hearts and Minds

Neuroscience proves that changing minds requires more pictures than words on PowerPoint

In the time it takes the average person to read this article, Instagram users will have uploaded 140,000 photos. Facebook users are uploading 300 million photographs every day. Why, then, is the average PowerPoint presentation full of text and bullet points?

“Bullets belong in The Godfather. Avoid them at all costs,” writes TED curator Chris Anderson in his book, TED Talks. “Photographs, illustrations, elegant typography, graphs, infographics, animation, video–all can dial up both the explanatory power of a talk and its aesthetic appeal.”

If the goal of your presentation is to change minds, bullet points on a slide won’t accomplish your mission. The brain cannot listen to a speaker, read a slide, and concentrate on both at the same time. Continue Reading

Big Ideas Are Best Kept Short According to Venture Capitalists

Condense your key message to 140 characters or less and it’s more likely to stick.

“If you can’t fit your idea on the back of an envelope, it’s rubbish,” Richard Branson once told me. The Virgin Group founder is on to something. In fact, most of the famous entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who I’ve interviewed agree that, to be persuasive, you must be able to communicate your big idea in a short sentence–very short. If it fits in a Twitter post, even better. Read full article on

This Soft Skill Makes You More Persuasive And There Is Data to Prove It

Storytelling in business presentations is more likely to move audiences to action.
Thanks to advances in neuroscience, brain scans, and data-driven studies, we’ve learned more about persuasion in the past decade than we had ever known previously. We know what works and why it works, and we can prove it scientifically.

The data firm Quantified Communications has added to the growing body of evidence that storytelling plays a critical role in effective business presentations. Quantified Communications maintains a large database of written and spoken communication from Fortune 500 executives, TED speakers, political leaders, business professors, entrepreneurs, and others. Continue Reading

Like the Best Speakers, Make this a Habit Before You Hit the Stage

New neuroscience research says this one habit will build your public speaking confidence.

At 20 million views, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor’s TED Talk called “My Stroke of Insight” is one of the most popular TED presentations online. As a result of her talk, the Harvard-trained neuroanatomist was chosen as one of Time magazine’s most influential people and appeared on Oprah’s Soul Series. Continue Reading on

The Key to Airbnb and Uber’s Competitive Edge

Successful entrepreneurs like Brian Chesky and Travis Kalanick are effective persuaders because the demands of the market require strong communication skills.

An upstart, by definition, is a newly successful person who bucks the established way of doing things. Author Brad Stone, who has covered technology companies for twenty years, believes today’s successful entrepreneurs have added a critical skill that separates them from previous generations: strong communication skills. Read Full Article

Five Presentation Tips We Can All Learn From Snap

Snapchat represents the intersection of communication, creativity and storytelling. So does its 35-minute IPO presentation.

On average, 158 million people use Snapchat every day and create 2.5 billion Snaps. While those figures are impressive, they weren’t revealed until a full twenty minutes into the 35-minute video that accompanies Snap Inc.’s IPO roadshow. There’s a reason for it. In order for statistics to be compelling, they need perspective. A persuasive presentation puts numbers into context before they’re revealed. Continue Reading

Winning Pitches Follow The 18-Minute Rule

TED Talks are limited to 18 minutes. Neuroscience proves it’s the ideal length for a new business pitch

“When I’m pitching a new idea, how long should my presentation be?”

It’s a common question that I hear from entrepreneurs and professionals preparing for new business pitches. Thankfully, there’s an answer and it’s backed by neuroscience and powerful real-world evidence. The answer: 18 minutes. Read Full Article

The Answer to This Question May Transform Your Career

Transform your business by answering this empowering question Steve Jobs brought up in a famous keynote.
At the conclusion of his last major public presentation, Steve Jobs paused and said, “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that make our hearts sing.”

I believe that turning Jobs’ observation into a question will transform your career or spark an idea for an innovative new business. I’ve seen it happen. Read Full Article

A Good Story Is Irresistible Even to Sharks

“Storytelling is everything,” Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran once said. “Show me an MBA and your sales numbers, that’s fine. But tell me a great story about how you got started and your vision, and we’ll talk.”

In the first episode of Season 8 of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, two sisters–Kara Haught and Shelly Hyde–pitched a line of swimsuits made for women and mothers like themselves. The sisters were seeking $100,000 for a 20% stake in their company, Raising Wild. Continue Reading

The One Skill That Will Raise Your Value by 50 Percent

Imagine working on one skill in 2017 that–once you improve on it–will raise your value by 50 percent. The one skill is public speaking.

The dividends on the investment you make in sharpening your communication skills will pay off for the rest of your career. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to billionaire Warren Buffett’s advice to a class of business students at Columbia University back in 2009: “Right now I would pay $100,000 for ten percent of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.” Continue Reading

These 5 Public Speaking Tips Will Make Your Next Pitch Sound Like A TED Talk

These 5 Public Speaking Tips Will Make Your Next Pitch Sound Like A TED Talk

Try these scientifically proven ways to engage your audience.

The most popular TED Talks share five qualities that any entrepreneur or speaker can — and should — adopt in their very next pitch or presentation. The list below is based on an analysis of more than 500 TED Talks (150 hours), interviews with popular TED speakers, and backed by the current neuroscience on persuasion. Continue Reading