Liberal blogger Arianna Huffington, publisher of the Huffington Post, poses an ages-old question to both contenders for the Presidency, “So, guys, what’s the story?”
At CommCore, we’re not taking sides in the Presidential race. But we note that she says when it comes to storytelling, President Obama has lost his mojo, Mitt Romney is inept, and both have failed to connect with the American public. She writes, “Obama hasn’t delivered [on a narrative, and] Romney remains clueless about the fact that the office he’s running for isn’t CEO of the country. It’s much bigger than that. And telling stories, casting a narrative, is an essential element in communicating ideas and values, and an integral part of leading — especially leading from the Oval Office.”
Huffington points out that the American Experience is built on storytelling. That’s something leaders as different as Ronald Reagan, FDR, and JFK understood. Huffington concludes, “Translating ideas into action is, of course, the essence of the president’s job. So that’s exactly what campaign season should be about — each candidate telling us the story of where he thinks we are as a country and, more importantly, where he wants to take us. The best way — the only way — to do that is with narrative.”
At CommCore we borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill – “The Language of Leadership.” Storytelling is what connects people, what resonates with them, what makes them believe that a leader understands them, has a vision, and has their interests at heart. Attacks divide; stories unite. Out-of-context sound bites titillate; relevant anecdotes illuminate.
Without storytelling, we are left with hollow words. At a time of national and global malaise, that’s not communication; it’s noise.