A Conversation with Matthew Taylor: Persuasion Through Narrative
Matthew Taylor hails from the small sailing village of Itchenor, England. Reveling in the seafarers’ tales from his local pub, Matthew learned early the power of a good story. He journeyed from the shores of the English tidal waters to the lakes of upstate New York as a sailing instructor. Matthew felt at home in the US, and eventually made his way to Colorado some 20 years ago. It was there that he began to capitalize on his passion for storytelling as a collaborator in A.C.E., a professional, business-directed comedy troupe. Matthew created more than 100 original performances, scripts and sketch comedy pieces for corporate engagements both domestic and international. Today he consults with corporate groups and individuals using his humor, insight and unique approach to help others build compelling narratives.
Here’s a recap of his journey and a perspective on how virtually everyone can benefit from the fine art of storytelling.
Tell me a little about your journey into coaching and storytelling:
About 10 years ago, at an improv theater in Denver, a dear friend asked me if I would consider teaching a storytelling workshop. I thought it was a great idea, so I took the lessons I had learned over the years from reading and from my own experiences and created the content of a hands-on, participation workshop. It actually went over quite well and I ended up working privately with several of the attendees, one of which I still work with up to this day.
With that experience, I realized there was an opportunity for people to really understand how to create positive impact by improving their communication style through effective storytelling.
There had been a lot of talk about the need for storytelling, but not many experts were showing people how to do it; few were helping them to identify the moments, craft the stories and develop the skills that can transform their careers. So, I formed the business with those first few clients and it just grew, grew, and kept on growing. I realized, “this is a lovely way to be making a living!” I kind of pinch myself every time I realize this is what I get to do every day.
My efforts with those early clients transitioned into the corporate world, as I found creating narratives has such an incredible link to effective, dynamic leadership. As I began doing my own research, I learned Gallup was doing research to understand the dynamics of “Why do people follow people?” So, we both were looking at what people look for in a leader.
The Gallup study synced up with what I’d learned. The top characteristics are 1. Trust, 2. Compassion, 3. Stability, 4. Hope. So, I thought “How do you show that you possess these traits?” The answer is tied to revealing yourself to others. If you don’t reveal to people who you are, they will make up their own story and they never really get it right. So examples from life become the vehicle to revealing those important leadership qualities.
You can’t make somebody trust you, or convince someone you have compassion by telling them you do. But you do have these little moments in your life that show you are a compassionate person, or that you are trustworthy. You need to be able to know and articulate these stories, to have them effortlessly float out into conversation, especially when you’re meeting people, interviewing for a position or convincing others to have confidence in your direction.
It all just fascinates me and it’s not difficult; generally people just don’t think about it or plan for how to do it.
So, how do you teach storytelling and why does it work?
I think the number one thing to understand is stories connect us as human beings. We yearn to connect with each other on some level. I start my message with that.
Next is persuasion. Storytelling is the most dynamic way to bring someone to your point of view.
And, very importantly, we remember stories far more than data or dry information. Or, as I like to think, it is easy recall, but so much more. Because not only do we remember stories, we tell them forward, we share stories, and that’s a big part of business and sales and leadership. Things have to be passed down through different silos and it can be really important for others to pass our messages along.
How would you describe the takeaway?
I teach by personal narrative because that is exactly what I’m wanting my audience to learn.
With small groups, participants learn something new about each other, even if they’ve been working together for years.
People have been telling stories since the beginning of time. It is part of human nature to communicate through examples and experiences. Of course, there are introverts and people who are reluctant to tell their stories. There are brilliant thinkers, that need to be given the space to talk. But with some coaching and thought-provoking exercise, we can get the audience or group to build their own narrative and consider how best to meet their own communication and leadership needs by sharing stories in a more effective way.
If you would like to know more about Matthew Taylor and his storytelling, consulting and keynote services, please contact us here: https://www.freemanleonard.com/about-us/contact/ .