What does it take to win a presidential election (or make your business prosper)? A majority of voters? Favorable polls, journalists conquered? In reality, none of this is necessary…
These elements are all the consequences of a single strategy, a single method: storytelling. Emmanuel Macron was not elected because he had the best program, because he was the darling of the media or because his opponent was particularly unattractive.
No. Emmanuel Macron had just a good story to tell us : the one we wanted to hear.
And whether you voted for him or not (you will understand, this article is not a political manifesto), we must give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: Macron and his team are storytelling geniuses. They understood the power of a good story. They exploited all the levers: and the candidate that was reduced to one “Pschtt” media now resides at the Élysée.
Back to an unstoppable storytelling (and the lessons you should learn for your business).
Why him ?
Emmanuel Macron has long been criticized for the late publication of his electoral program. That did not stop him from being elected, and I do not believe his constituents voted for a political or economic program.
Emmanuel Macron also did not rest, like most of his competitors, on a strong and structured political party, established in political life for decades. His constituents therefore did not vote for him out of habit, or in continuity with their previous votes.
Emmanuel Macron was a minister, but he was very little known before the quinquennium of François Hollande; most of his detractors (including some of his current ministers …) did not fail to emphasize his inexperience. His constituents therefore did not choose political experience and stability, the status quo no more.
But how did Emmanuel Macron get elected under these conditions?
We hardly remember the content of the candidate’s first speeches. Some have criticized him for being just a media bubble.
On the other hand, we all have in mind the image of Emmanuel Macron who concludes his first big meeting at the Porte de Versailles, screaming at the end of his speech, visibly elated by a delirious crowd. And whether this slippage was controlled or not, the results in terms of image were immediate:
And that’s all it takes to get started: get people to ask questions. Then just bring the answers they want to hear.
Emmanuel, a guy like you and me
The great thing about Macron storytelling is that it is fully summarized on the presentation page of his En Marche! Movement.
And what’s really striking is how hard he applied to respect the Aristotelian structure of the story.
Emmanuel Macron takes us through the eight stages of the story according to Aristotle, quickly done well.
1. The initial arrangement
“I was born in Amiens 39 years ago. I was raised by my parents, both public service doctors, alongside my brother and sister. “
So far, all is well, we know more or less where the candidate is coming from and we are reassured by a visibly stable and balanced family environment. It’s reassuring. In addition, almost everything, it almost looks like my family: keep going, you’re interested.
2. Description of the characters
“Until her recent demise, I was extremely close to my grandmother. She was a college principal. If my political thinking and commitment had only one origin, it would be it. “
Emmanuel, would you try to take us by the feelings The candidate gives us an intimate detail about his personal life. It gives it relief. It makes him human. And we continue to weave the decor of a stable family environment: two parents doctors, a main grandmother from college … “I did my schooling in my hometown. »Translate: “I’m a guy like you, I tell you, I didn’t have to make Louis the Great to succeed – but I’m not targeting anyone. “
3. The rise of the action
“It is because I believe in work that I enrolled in preparatory classes and that I wanted to then pass the Republican competitions. ”
“This is why I started my own business before I became a minister. “
Do you see it coming? He kindly tells us how, step by step, he wanted to become president. Yes, because it rose slowly in him, like a sacred flame that begins with an ember (preparatory classes, exemplary schooling) and that feeds on various experiences (public and private sector, he saw everything). And today he’s ready. But ready for what, exactly?
4. The turnaround
“And my life today is first of all a fight for values that I have pegged to the body. “
After setting us a stable background and providing engaging characters, Emmanuel Macron goes into combat mode: and he doesn’t do it out of personal interest, or out of pure kindness, no, he does it because he has values pegged to the body. So after the normal guy, we start to see our hero profiling.
This is the stage where the hero has to face a difficult choice that will allow him to rise and triumph: and there, it’s a little more subtle. It is important to read between the lines of “Values” on this page, and it is in the “Freedom” paragraph that the recognition stage is found.
“The love of freedom, that is what led me to philosophy. This is what prompted me to accept the proposal of the President of the Republic, when he asked me to become a minister, even though politics is not where I come from. “
So there, low hat. We almost have the impression that François Hollande had to beg Emmanuel Macron to join his government.
From great philosophy, too: Macron places himself in the position of the Platonic philosopher, who is both the only one who can govern and the only one who rejects this responsibility, too aware of the danger it represents. Basically, “I devoted myself, but I really didn’t want it, I assure you. If there had been more competent than me, I would certainly have left my place, by the way. “
“But it is for these values, and to allow everyone to make them live for themselves, that I am involved in politics. “
Translate: “Nothing has been won yet, I can promise you nothing except my banking skills, my ENA diplomas, a stable family, my former post as minister and my studies in philosophy. On the other hand, I am ready to go into battle for you, provided that you vote for me. “ How to refuse a deal the same ?
The fall of the action
This step no longer takes place on the candidate’s presentation page, and we know it well: it is the debate between Emmanuel Macron and his second round opponent, Marine Le Pen.
After having imposed his vision by being elected in the first round, the ex-banker had to take the next step by rolling out its sales pitch. Unemployment ? I will reduce it with lighter loads for companies. The exemplarity of political life? I will make it a priority by imposing certain conditions of access to my candidates for legislative… And so on.
Macron implements all the elements that will allow it to continue his presidential saga.
A bit like when you watch a series and you arrive at the very last episode of the season. In general, the writers make sure to answer all the questions asked in the first episode.
But if the series has pleased the public enough, and that it has brought in enough money for advertisers, the writers also manage to plant surprising, inexplicable elements, a detail that will relaunch the whole next season.
8. The outcome
Macron is elected, and it is a very presidential, grave and solemn image that reaches us. Understand: “I will not be a president like the others, lunches at Fouquet’s and scooter rides, very little for me. With me, it will go straight. “
The ingredients of a good story: ethics, emotion and reason
Other episodes, other characters from Macron’s campaign could have been integrated into this narrative plan, but it was not necessary. The storytelling of the president has the advantage of being particularly readable.
You can easily find the three essential forms of speech, also defined by Aristotelian rhetoric: l ’ethos, the pathos and the logos.
Let’s go back for a moment to the En Marche! Presentation page. The speech is addressed to both:
- Our ethical, moral sense (ethos)
“Because yes, I consider that work is a value. Because it is the first source of individual emancipation and because it is the most powerful means of freeing oneself from determinism: it is through work that one can become the one that one desires being. “
Emmanuel Macron does not only want to give work to the French: he deeply believes in the value of work, and shows an unwavering faith in him. It’s at the same time his vision of the world, his personal ethics and faith that he wanted to convey to his constituents.
- Our affect, our emotions (pathos)
“When I look back, I can say that I was lucky. I grew up in a wealthy environment. ”
“Finally, there is my family. My base, my refuge. Our children and stepchildren, and our seven grandchildren. “
Nostalgia, fatherly love, gratitude to parents and grandparents… We would almost have tears in our eyes, wouldn’t we? In telling us about his family, his childhood, Emmanuel Macron refers us to our own childhood memories, to the ties that bind us to our own families.
- Our reasoning ability, our logic (logos)
“I did the ENA, I am a finance inspector, I worked in an investment bank, then for François Hollande during the 2012 presidential campaign, and I was at his service for more than two years as Deputy Secretary General of the Elysée. I was Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital, with passion, until the end of August 2016. “
Who says better ? By rolling out his CV in this way, Emmanuel Macron proves to us by A + B that he is perfectly competent to manage our country.
And if you still weren’t convinced of the power of storytelling …
Look at them two straight defeats for Hilary Clinton in the US presidential elections. The first defeat against Obama is well analyzed by François Meuleman in Storytelling, we will tell you everything (Edipro editions, 2009):
To “I am a professional, I know my files well and I will explain to you why things are going wrong and how we can take things back in hand …” by Hilary Clinton, [Barack Obama] ” I admit: I know less than Mrs. Clinton, but I do what is good for my family. And I will do what is good for the United States. “
We all know the rest. But the most interesting thing is to see how misunderstood the lesson has been by the Clinton clan. Instead of feeding on this failure, Hilary reproduced the same strategy against Donald Trump, constantly pointing out his inexperience and emphasizing his own competence.
Trump just portrayed himself like a normal guy, much like the average American, using the most common elements of language (“The best…”, “The worst…”, “A great…”).
He promised to manage the United States as he ran his business : and the least we can say is that Donald Trump’s financial statement spoke in his favor.
He has talked about concrete things : what could be more palpable, more reassuring, than a wall?
The idea of erecting a wall to stop migratory flows on the Mexican border is completely absurd, you can’t help but smile when you think about it.
However, it is concrete: we all build walls (or fences, or palisades) to separate our houses from those of the neighbors, right? Donald Trump talked about things that people knew; better yet, he talked about things people felt – like the need to protect their property in an increasingly unstable, worrisome world.
Again, we all know how the story ends.
It’s up to you to captivate your audience: adopt the Macron method
To summarize, you will just need to implement:
- A full story, with a starting point, a rise in power, a reversal of the situation, ups and downs, a climax, a fall and a conclusion;
- A truer than life, to which you will give relief in small touches (an intimate detail, even if it seems insignificant at first sight, will do the trick perfectly). Your character must allow your reader or your client to identify easily, thanks to common values, emotions shared by a large majority of people (like memories of childhood, for example) or an honorable journey;
- A multi-faceted discourse : You need to speak to the emotions of your audience, as much as their reasoning skills and their ethical sense. This is perhaps the most difficult exercise in storytelling; but these three ingredients are absolutely essential for your story to hit the mark.
But first of all … have faith!
Whether your storytelling applies to an electric toothbrush, sports coaching or canary hunting e-books, you absolutely must have faith in what you sell.
There is something about magic in storytelling, like there is magic in a Disney movie.
Macron not only maintained his faith in work and in England on the march: he proudly carried it and managed to transmit it. Little by little, each person to whom he had transmitted his faith transmitted it to someone else: and the media bubble gradually turned into a real political movement. Ask the voters of Fillon if they had faith in their candidate … and look at the results of the candidate in question.
In reality, your experience or skill will not help you win over your customers (but they will help you retain them).
What people want are beautiful stories, it is to dream a little.
The era of experts is over : after all, the financiers who created the conditions for the subprime Americans were industry experts, which did not stop them from depriving thousands of Americans of their homes.
People no longer trust experts: they now prefer visionaries, dreamers, those whom Seth Godin calls “Heretics” – provided they have a plan and faith.
The way you tell your story or that of your business can help you sell more (and even win a presidential election). What are you waiting for?