Cut the fluff, please!

We all loves stories, don’t we? It’s common knowledge. And marketers since the dawn of (their) civilisation (er, 19th century?) have been evangelising about the power of storytelling for ages! Authors, the kind who’re also good marketers or just happen to have a great marketing mind in their payroll, have leveraged this fact to their own advantage as well. Of course, I’m not talking about novelists or short-story writers but non-fiction writers who have been boring us to death since Gutenburg happened.

Storytelling is re-evolving and it seems we’re all going back to the basics now. And that’s great! It was never meant to be that complicated in the first place. Of course, academicians hate it but who cares? The idea is to get the work assimilated, distributed and create an impact along the way. That’s not to say that the age of theorizing is over, it just got exciting. The educators and academicians just need to accept it.

But, I digress. What really peeves me to the core is people stretching the storytelling bit to the extra mile. I get mentions about ‘fables’ on leadership, marketing and sales that’s selling like hot cakes on the Amazon’s bestseller list every now and then. In fact, I happen to buy a few of them, only to return them a couple of days later. Each one of them.

Now, it wasn’t that the books didn’t have any value. It was the way the stories were being told. I found them overly dumbed down and melodramatic so much so that I kept asking myself, “what’s the point?” Just get to it and be done with it already! Everyone would be happy. Why? Because at the end of the day, people would still value the book more for the concepts and education a book delivers. Not the stories.

I believe stories help people remember and/or convey the concepts better, if they’re short. Stories between 5 and 20 minutes are better than the ones that would last for more than a couple of hours (pick up an audiobook of one of these ‘fables’). Practically speaking, we already convey stories on a regular basis in person. And these would be 3-5 minute palatable stories. Anything longer would be boring, unless they’re part of a presentation (TED talks anyone?).

Authors need to understand that their books have alternatives — an audiobook or worse, an abridged audiobook! While I understand the appeal of stories, authors since ages have been using them for all the right reason. There’s nothing wrong with that format at all. In fact, I find them much more authentic and relatable to the overarching concepts they’re trying to teach, unlike the so-called ‘fables.’ Sure, some of our modern day writers have mastered the craft of storytelling. But I think a non-fiction business book isn’t a novel and shouldn’t be written as one.

And believe me when I say this, I actually love some of these writers! I’ve bought programs and invested countless hours studying and devouring their content. But I just can’t stand to read their books! (No pun intended!)

Maybe it’s just me. After all, I am averse to things that are ‘made-up’ just for the heck of it.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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