Yesterday morning I delivered a keynote address on influential storytelling to 80 executives at the company DSW, headquartered in Columbus.  They sell shoes and lots of them.  In attempting to find the perfect metaphor to begin my talk, I made them each take off their right shoes.  To a group of shoe execs, the energy in the room went from “Who is this woman and where can I get more coffee?” to “This may be fun.”

In the class and also this keynote, I always stress the importance of a balance between the objective and subjective information you should share in any talk or presentation.  It is just the way our brain works.  We crave to know how many people died in the plan crash before we hear one of the tragic stories.  We love to hear about how sales went “through the roof” but we want to know how high with specific numbers.

So I told them to take off their right shoes and walk around a bit.  I then suggested to them, after they felt the discomfort (especially the women in 5 inch wedges) that this was like giving someone data and fact only.  Or better yet, selling people only the left shoe.  I asked them what would happen if you only offered “lefts” in your store.  One exec aptly replied “Your customers would walk out.”

Exactly. Because that’s what your audience does when you speak to only one side of the brain.  Turn around and walk out.

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