It was the summer of 1977, I was a 9-year-old day camp dropout, and Star Wars took over my life.

The culture-changing movie was playing at the “Daytona 6” theater attached to a mall where my mother worked in retail. For six weeks in a row I convinced her to let me come with her to work, go to the movie theater by myself, and marvel at Star Wars while enjoying a hot pretzel, popcorn, and an orange soda. Movie tickets were about $1 a piece in those days.

Every scene across the 2-hour film was exciting to me; even on my sixth viewing. I couldn’t get enough.

When I’d played with my friends I usually wanted to pretend we were Star Wars characters. I drew pictures of said characters on a regular basis. One of my peers remarked, “All John ever thinks about is Star Wars!

Indeed, I was hooked on all things Star Wars. And more importantly, I was hooked on storytelling itself.

The “what” and “why” of storytelling.

Storytelling, a core career and life strength, is the art and science of influencing others through skillful communication and personal brand. Everyone loves a great story! Stories are part of what makes us human; we’ve been telling and re-telling stories as long as we’ve had language. They have the ability to hook us in, connect with us emotionally, and inspire us.

Furthermore, stories are “sticky,” remaining in our minds and easy to share socially. And the best stories create links with our lives; pictures, emotions and voices in our heads. We feel the storyteller is speaking to us in particular. As noted in this Entrepreneur article, storytelling is “changing the landscape in business,” enabling professionals to build trust and empathy with their audience, which can lead to stronger relationships and customer loyalty.

Our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world is distracted, and this situation worsens every minute as more information and choices become available. The executives, managers, and peers we’re presenting to in conference rooms are distracted, glancing at their phones every few minutes and daydreaming, because they’re stressed and overwhelmed.

The best storytellers will gain two gifts that are both precious and fleeting: other people’s attention and permission to tell the stories in the first place. Never take these two gifts for granted, and give thoughtful consideration to how you will earn and re-earn them.

Human and AI collaboration

Regarding storytelling, collaboration between humans and AI can result in compelling narratives that leverage the strengths of both.

One example, which is probably one of the first things people think of these days when someone mentions AI, involves content generation and tools such as ChatGPT4, Bard, and Pi. AI can assist in generating content, including plot ideas, character descriptions, and even entire paragraphs. Complementing these AI skills, humans bring creativity, emotion, and context to shape and refine the generated content into a cohesive narrative.

Take action!

Identify one key area in your professional work or personal life where more effective storytelling could be a game-changer for you.

After doing so, seek to enhance your storytelling skills by studying great storytellers. Read and listen to their narratives, whether they are leaders or colleagues at work, authors, speakers, performers, etc. Analyze how they structure their stories, create suspense, and evoke emotions. Learn from their techniques and styles.

Furthermore, research additional ways that you can collaborate with AI to become a more effective storyteller. I’ve mentioned just one example above but there’s many more!

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF-certified and experienced professional, coaching authentic human leaders in the age of AI, with a focus on organizations whose Director+ population is facing complex, nuanced problems. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.