WHOEVER TELLS THE BEST STORY WINS: How to use your own stories to communicate with power and impact by Annette Simmons

Genres: Sales, Entrepreneurship, Business, Presentations, Nonfiction

Rating: 4/5

Recommend to: People in sales, Customer service, Entrepreneurs, Project managers, Marketers, Start-up founders, Coaches.

Number of pages: 226 pages


At first I thought this book would be a treasure of stories that I could learn from and tell to others. Like the books Magic of Metaphors or Lead with a Story. But I found out that this book takes a different route of explaining and teaching us the art of storytelling. If you are interested in telling your own story, what you have experienced, what you have learned in your life then this is the book for you. It does not have that many stories and most of them are personal stories of the author as an example of how to tell your own story based on the situation you are trying to explain. I found the book interesting, as the author explains with examples how you can come up with and share your stories for different situations. The author always guides you with steps about when to use which story, what to be carefull about when preparing the story, and how to get feedback. 

People have been telling stories since they have figured out a way to communicate, and the ones who perfected their skills of storytelling best, were the ones who spread the most ideas and beliefs. Storytelling is art, it’s a craft that you master by practicing it time and time again. Annette Simmons is all about that personal touch of your own experiences and who you are as a person. In the “world” of persuasion you need to earn the trust of your audience before they even think of “buying” what you are “selling”. How do you earn trust? How did you earn your friends trust, and how did they earn yours? It’s pretty simple. You got to know each other, you experienced certain situations together, you liked and most probably still like the same things or some of them, and you may even have the same views about the world. So if that is how trust is earn, you come to the conclusion that you need to open up to your audience and let them get to know you in the shortest time possible. All you need to do is tell them your story. The story of who you are, where you come from, why you are here and what you want to accomplish. The tricky part is to find out what kind of values your listeners have, or what they have experienced that you could use to build trust. You do that by asking question and listening. Every great storyteller loves to listen to stories of others and he/she also collects them. So listen to your audience, get to know them, find that common factor that can create a bond and build on it. 


  • In an ocean of choice, a meaningful story can feel like a life-preserver that tethers us to something safe, important, or at the very least more solid than disembodied voices begging for attention.
  • When you stimulate human emotions with a story, you point those emotions in a certain direction.
  • Stories become society’s memories that pull the attention of large groups of people to certain feelings and frames that filter perception of current events.
  • Attention is a prerequisite to influence because attention frames interpretation. When you control attention you control conclusions.
  • When you frame an issue you predetermine the conclusion people draw from available data by focusing their attention on the data inside your frame.
  • Story is how humans interpret things as good or bad, important or irrelevant, safe or dangerous, and “who is one of us” or “one of them”.
  • Humans experience this world from eyes and ears set in a body that can only be in one place at a time. The collective past, present, and imagined future times and places represent a subjective point of view that frames how a person feels about you, your idea, or your organization. Storytelling transports people to different points of view so they can reinterpret or refraim what your “facts” mean to them.
  • Subjective point of view changes meaning. Meaning is more powerful than facts. If people fear the meaning of your facts they can easily distort, or ignore them.
  • A story is a reimagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listeners’  imagination to experience it as real.
  • Nothing is more important than the stories you tell yourself and others about your work and your personal and community life.
  • When telling a story with intent to influence get personal. People need to know who you are before they can trust you.
  • When someone assumes you are there to sell an idea that will cost them money, time, or resources, it immediately discredits your “facts” as biased. Tell this person what you get out of it besides money. Or if it is just about money for you, own it.
  • With stories imagination is engaged because the experience is still ambiguous in the way real life is ambiguous. Stories don’t squeeze out interpretation they invite listeners to participate in the “what does this mean?” question. Stories give people freedom to come to their own conclusions.
  • You may desperately want people to come to the “right” conclusions, but trying to control their conclusions pushes people away.
  • Trust is one of the first things to disappear when all decisions are forced to make objective, rational sense.
  • Stories live in the messy ambiguity of real life. If you clean them up too much you kill them.
  • Only by finding and telling stories that feel personally significant to you can you expect to elicit the level of personal engagement that wins hearts and minds.
  • Sharing personal experiences earns you trust and exert influence. Stories of personal experience can be about: A time you shined, a time you blew it, a mentor, a book, movie or a current events.
  • Telling a story that discloses a mistake can increase trust twice as fast as polishing the story to give it a professional finish. Trust often fails because neither side wants to go first. But the very fact that you are sharing a personal failure show them that you trust them enough to go first. This is how you get the ball rolling and people are more likely to trust you back.
  • Successful people always have failure stories.
  • Telling a story of gratitude and admiration toward another person who embodies the qualities or goals you value not only communicates these qualities and goals, it demonstrates to your listeners the very important qualities of humility and gratitude, which are the essence of personal dignity. Another advantage in telling a mentor story is that people automatically assume that you share these qualities, values, goals.
  • Creativity comes to those who aren’t afraid to tune in to their own eccentricities.
  • The most important story you will ever tell is Who are you? Everything you have been, done, haven’t done, dreamed of, will do, will be, and won’t be… Your ability to influence people is directly related to what those people know or believe about who you are.
  • We don’t want more information. We crave personal experiences that build up our faith and if that is not possible we want true stories that feel like personal experiences.
  • In a New York Times/CBS survey (July 1999) people were asked how many of people in general do they think are trustworthy? The answer on average was 30%. Then they were asked how many of the people they know are trustworthy? The answer was 70%. Tell people your story, let them get to know you.
  • When making a deal people have an internal sense of fairness that judges the ratio of what you get out of this exchange in comparison to what they get. Even when people know they can get exactly what they want, they scan the deal for any evidence that you might be using them to get more than your fair share.
  • If an offer feels exploitative people prefer to take nothing and will even pay their own money to punish a free rider.
  • when talking about the deal with your customers they do not relax and listen to what is in it for them until they are satisfied they know what’s in it for you.
  • Big mistakes make fabulous stories as long as you aren’t telling about unfinished issues.
  • A teaching story transports your listener into an experience that lets him or her feel, touch, hear, see, taste and smell excellent performance.
  • Tell three stories of past, present, and future consequences for missing the mark.
  • Find someone who has the skills you want – study their story and tell their story.
  • A good vision story makes otherwise ambiguous premises for future payoffs come alive with carefully crafted sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that eclipse the work we do today for tomorrow’s payoff. Overwhelming obstacles shrink to bearable frustrations that are worth the effort.
  • Scenario planning is a popular application of storytelling for vision. Future goals are interpreted through various scenarios in a narrative simulation of several possible futures. Tell 2 – 3 stories with different actions and different endings (bad, neutral, good). Then ask your audience which ending would they like. Give them time to think and have an answer, then let them know what they have to do today, for them to get that in the future.
  • Stories based on negative emotions like fear fuel stress, by feeding perception of danger, scarcity and us/them thinking. Fear literally narrows vision and limits creativity. It narrows your peripheral vision to a tiny percentage of the available input and toggles your options between two options: Fight or flight. Fear makes you stupid. it compartmentalized every IQ point you have into tiny loops of worst case scenarios.
  • It is important to remember that a good vision story also validates the difficulties of achieving your vision. Vision stories that ignore real pain, sacrifice, and frustration can burn out your optimists and fail to motivate the “realists” in your group.
  • Before you look for stories, take some time to think and write down the four most important values that guide your behavior. These change over time, and at any point in your life some will have higher priority than others.
  • Many arguments are fueled less by the “need to be right” and more by the chronically unmet need to be heard and respected.
  • As primates, humans are programmed to be vitally concerned with environment for clues as to where we stand in the pecking order. Even random events are interpreted as meaningful.
  • Influence is much easier if you can control the sequence of information that best supports your point of view.
  • Groups have patterns, and if you can predict the patterns of the group you can be in the right place at the right time.
  • Storytelling intentionally uses sensory language or sensory experiences to stimulate desired patterns of association and create new patterns of association.
  • Regardless of what conclusion a story reinforces, it all begins with powerful sensory memories that activate strong good or bad associations, so you can direct these emotions toward new associations. When the new associations are stimulating enough to be remembered or retold, every “reexperiencing” of the new association further anchors the patterns and increases the probability that future events will trigger your new patterns of association.
  • Once a story stimulates a physical sensation in your listener’s body and is associated with highly familiar or strongly emotional experiences, it has sticking power. Be sure to implement triggers in the story, so your audience “feels” at least a pinch, papercut, bump, wind blowing, smell fresh cut grass, heat,…
  • Choose one of your story ideas and develop vivid stimulating descriptions for each of the five senses (make them smell, taste, hear, touch and see) that build context for your story.
  • Greatest writers and artists invest hours of time and attention in search of an elegant expression or a single line that says it all.
  • Storytelling as a function of self-expression requires some level of self-examination. In order to tell you a story that communicates who I am and Why I am here, I must spend a little time asking myself those questions.
  • Stories that mobilize active engagement must trigger personal recognition: “This is me, this is about my life, this impacts people I love”.
  • Find stories where we are the same and you find a mutual connections.
  • Most behavior can be defined in terms of personal needs. We need to belong, we need security, and we need to feel that we make a difference in the world.
  • Every person you seek to influence can’t help but evaluate your message from their subjective point of view.
  • The primary stumbling block that sabotages most attempts to influence is a lack of respect for, or trust in, the people one is trying to influence.
  • Truly influential storytelling comes from the ability to step in and out of different points of view in time. Develop the ability to jump through time and space.
  • You carry your beliefs around in the form of stories and metaphors.
  • Great storytellers are compulsive story listeners. Great artists seek out art. if you love it you seek it out.


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Thank you for your time. I hope you have found this book review helpful. Talk to you in the comment section.

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