The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: The Art of the Public Narrative

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.

Last night over dinner and exercises, Kate Hilton shared with the MLDP group the power of public narrative. She talked about two different ways of gaining knowledge, with our heads vs our heart. Argument can be strategic and logical, but Ms. Hilton focused instead on developing narrative to move people in order to motivate to act. How does one achieve this? Ms. Hilton proposed three components in any speech, exemplified in Obama's 2004 Illinois address. Obama drew the crowd in with where his mother and father came from, raised the American dream he shares with his audience, and described the work that need to be done. The story of self, to the story of us, and the story of now. Obama ended his speech with a specific action for his audience: vote for John Kerry.
What did MLDP participants say was their main takeaway? Stories people can relate to. Ones with values shared with the audience, that show vulnerability and that overcome obstacles. One last thought: visual images have power, and that is, perhaps, what is at the heart of public narrative.
-Lusha Zhou '13

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences