One of the many things that public speakers can learn from religious leaders is the power of a good parable. Lately, I like to start my management talks with a story about my personal hero, Hungarian-born obstetrician, Ignaz Semmelweis.
Semmelweis discovered a powerful weapon against childbed fever – washing your hands with chlorine lime solution – but failed to popularize the method, largely due to the resistance of the medical establishment and his own hubris. This story has a series of lessons to teach to modern managers, on the power of experimentation, communication and, last but not least, standardization. When I started the talk at the latest #Bitspiration conference with the story about Semmelweis, the majority of the people in the audience were head deep in their laptops and phones. When I finished, everybody was ready for what was coming next.
That’s the power of a good parable.