Dénouement, Quest for Science ...


The grab bag returns with a trio of takes.

Dénouement in Business Storytelling

Our workshop on storytelling techniques discusses dénouement, the French word that means to undo or untie the knot.

the hoffman agency classic storytelling

For business storytelling, it’s the time to bring clarity and resolution to the communications at hand.

Even though a business story doesn’t always technically end, you still need to find some way to shape the happy ending.

The Role of Transportation in the Persuasiveness of Public Narratives

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Not exactly the most catchy title, but I’m always interested in the science behind storytelling so I forked out the $11.95 to access the paper at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

I so wanted to mine fodder for my why-storytelling-works file, a handy resource in helping clients who often come from an engineering orientation to buy into the concept.

No such a luck.

Maybe the compelling science is there. I just couldn’t work my way through a narrative denser than stale cheesecake.

To net it out, persuasive storytelling works when the reader:

  • Pictures the events
  • Feels some type of involvement or connection with the events
  • Identifies with one of the characters
  • Considers how the narrative could have turned out differently
  • Etc.

Which we already knew.

Irony in Irony

The Economist penned a story earlier in the month, “The Boredom of Boozeless Business” lamenting the end of the three-martini lunch and calling out Bloomberg BusinessWeek as a proof point:

Even famously booze-fuelled occupations such as journalism have felt the puritanical wind: hacks at Bloomberg Businessweek can be disciplined for so much as sipping a spritzer.

Apparently, the “offended” party contacted The Economist because the following correction appears in the August 18 issue.

The Economist August 18 issue

I did get a kick out of The Economist going with fourth-trade syntax in the apology.

This is not true. Sorry. We must have been drunk on the job.

If one can apologize and mock at the same time, this is how it’s done.


  • Michael Gambale

    Thanks for your post.

    I am not sure it is science or just general observation. But in Bruce Block’s book Visual Storytelling he discusses how movies create a progression using story, sound, and visual intensity. No matter how the story is told unless it is creating one or more progressions people won’t feel like they are being taken for a ride. All of these different elements of creating a story have to speak to the listener in context,using shared feelings and shared situations and with deep honesty and passion.

    This notion of progressions is an important theme and one in which I am focusing on to increase the relevance and impact of how we use stories in our learning programs.

    I enjoyed your post. Maybe I will check out PDF anyway since I am into the psychological aspect of storytelling.



  • Lou

    I think I need to check out Bruce Block’s book.

    Thanks for weighing in.

    If you do read the PDF and can make sense of it, would welcome a guest post that puts the insights into conversational language.

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