How Trump Won the Election by Using Core Narrative Techniques

Randy Olson, Author and Independent Filmmaker, joins a special Business of Story Podcast to talk about how Trump intuitively utilized a surprisingly simple story template for creating compelling narratives to win the election.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

randy-olson_instagramSimple Story Wins

We as humans are hardwired to react more strongly to certain core narrative elements. Savvy leaders often use those tactics to gain influence, but it’s easy to mistrust this structure as it is deceivingly simple. Even people with the best intentions might not get the attention of the masses if they don’t apply the right narrative structure. 

To make sure your story is heard, you must stick to simple rules and a singular narrative.

Luckily for us, Randy Olson is an expert in this structure and shares what he has learned from years of studying story and, in particular, speeches. He proposes that the outcome of our recent presidential election was decided mainly based on the fact that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign never found a singular narrative and resisted utilizing the core blocks of narrative, but Mr. Trump’s did; which in the end gave him the victory.

After understanding this core narrative structure, any marketer can use the same story techniques as Mr. Trump to get his or her brand story heard.

Randy discusses how he found his way from a doctorate in biology to studying the science of story, his proven ‘and-but-therefore’ story structure, why simplicity is incredibly powerful, and why Mr. Trump was able to win the election by using his narrative intuition.

In This Episode

  • Why all great stories can and should be refined into three simple elements: And, But, and Therefore
  • How many marketers make the mistake of calling the template ‘too simple’
  • Why a singular narrative is so important for all marketing campaigns
  • How Donald Trump used his natural narrative intuition to win the election
  • Why Hillary Clinton’s over-complicated message was a detrimental to her campaign
  • How to harness and practice these basic elements to improve your storytelling


Quotes From This Episode

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a scientist, it’s the incredible power of simplicity.” —@ABTagenda

“Everywhere you find a great communicator, you will find deep narrative intuition.” —@ABTagenda

“It’s an ongoing challenge because it’s a moving target. As we get deeper into social media and communicate more rapidly, the audience continues to change.” —@ABTagenda

“Scientists, and people who are caught up in this information-heavy world end up losing their grasp on narrative. Narrative is something that kids pick up at an early age, and I think the brain is programed into it, but when you get packed with so much information you get more caught up in the information than in the structure. It underpins all of our logic, and reason, and story, and even the scientific method. So a lot of what I’m working to do is to bring people back around to realize how fundamental that is, and that it’s at the core of effective communication.” —@ABTagenda

“There are three fundamental forces in narrative: agreement, contradiction, and consequence.” —@ABTagenda (highlight)

“Make America Great Again; that’s an ABT. Once upon a time we were a great and mighty nation, but we’ve slipped in the world. Therefore, it’s time to make America great again. He had deep narrative intuition in that slogan from the outset.” —@ABTagenda

“People don’t listen to leaders that don’t have this narrative quality. People that are boring and confusing, nobody follows. You’ve got to maintain people’s interest, and that is at the core of narrative.” —@ABTagenda

“I would recommend that anybody involved with a lot of communication to commit to some means of long-term narrative training.” —@ABTagenda


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