This book does what any book about applied storytelling should do: it describes how to apply storytelling without compromising storytelling's artistic heart.
Annette offers the book as a way to achieve "inspiration, influence and persuasion." By the end of the book, the reader learns that the "secret" of influence is, in fact, what has drawn so many fans to the art of storytelling: stories persuade because they lead us to the common ground of mutual respect - not by giving one party a secret weapon with which to manipulate the other. In Annette's words:
"Story doesn't grab power. Story creates power.... As a storyteller you borrow a story's power to connect people to what is important and to help them make sense of their world." (Page 29).
"The Story Factor" is my favorite "storytelling in business" book. To be sure, I had the pleasure of writing the forward to it. I did so in part because Annette has been my student in storytelling as well as my mentor in my own work with businesses. But I would never write a forward to any book in which I did not believe as deeply as I believe in my own books. I receive no payment from sales of "The Story Factor."
Here are some particular things I liked about "The Story Factor":
1. The description of the "Six Stories You Need to Know How to Tell" is worth the price of the book. People want the answers to certain questions before they'll give you a chance to persuade them of anything. These six stories achieve some of your essential interpersonal goals right away, and lay the groundwork for you to achieve the others.
2. In the chapter called "What Stories Do That Facts Can't," Annette shows how your stories can de-escalate conflict, side-step traps laid for you, avoid the "because I said so" kind of arguments, broaden a discussion by grounding it in a wider reality, etc.
3. One of Annette's chapters takes up one of my least favorite questions: "How do I tell a good story?" Why do I dread being asked that question? Because it seems to pre-suppose that there is a recipe for telling stories that works in all situations. In her characteristic Aikido-like way, however, Annette directs her readers to follow solid, easy-to-use advice that doesn't lock them into a limited formula. She briefly and convincingly outlines nine key points to keep in mind - that will nearly guarantee good telling.
4. Annette's tone hits that "sweet spot" between the hype of so many pop business books, on the one hand, and the dense, soggy prose that deadens so many academic-type books on communication, business strategies, etc., on the other. She speaks to her reader with conversational ease - but without "selling" or oversimplifying.
5. Annette's book is filled with memorable, well-told stories. Some are brief enough to throw into a conversation; others could be the keystone of a speech. The story about the red and green shoes is now part of my permanent mental landscape, as are the burning piano and the silent door-to-door salesman. With few exceptions, Annette integrates the stories into her chapters, rather than separating them into self-contained boxes. She never says why; I'll bet, though, that it's because she believes that stories persuade best when they aren't self-consciously introduced as "stories," but when they flow out of your very being, your attitude toward your listeners, and your commitment to your message.
If you care at all about using storytelling in an organization, for persuasion, or to get across a personal message, you'd be foolish to pass up this book. Beginners in the use of story will be well guided; experts will find great new stories to tell as well as a clear, systematic exposition of how story works in practice - and, underlying it all, a refreshing, inspiring perspective about how humans actually persuade each other. This book is not only about influence; it has already become highly influential. Miss it at you own risk!