Association RevUP is a podcast presented by the Professionals for Association Revenue. The following post is based on Episode 3: RevUP Sales Skills with Brittany Shoul, Jay Blankenship, Lori Zoss Kraska and Park Howell. Check out the full episode wherever you get your podcast or at the link below.

Amid the turmoil of the Civil War, two speeches emerged – one a lengthy two-hour discourse largely forgotten; the other, a mere two-minute address that became one of the most famous speeches of our nation’s history.

The Battle of Gettysburg, a three-day battle resulting in more than 50,000 casualties, halted the Confederacy’s advance into the North and marked a turning point in the war. Four months later in November 1863, the burial grounds from the battle’s casualties were officially dedicated as the Gettysburg Cemetery.

The featured speaker of the day was former Harvard College president, Edward Everett, who spoke for 2-hours about the cause of the war and its bloodiest battle. Upon Everett’s conclusion, President Abraham Lincoln rose and delivered his 272-word remarks in a succinct two-minutes.

Everett later wrote to Lincoln expressing his admiration: “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as close to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

Lincoln’s words, which are etched into the walls of the Washington D.C. monument bearing his name, acknowledged the war’s tragedies while calling upon the living to “resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” His speech invoked emotion, duty and a sense of responsibility to continue the fight for a “new birth of freedom.”

According to Park Howell, the founder of The Business of Story, Lincoln’s message endures in part because of the speech’s storytelling structure.

“This is where storytelling comes in. It is the ultimate primal technology that we have been using since the beginning of recorded history, to make sense out of the madness of being humans. …  storytelling is essentially the hardware or the software that drives the hardware of our brain. When we confuse our audiences, it's a really bad user experience.”

In essence, Everett’s speech confused the audience, but Lincoln’s remarks inspired a nation. Howell says that associations can learn from this.

“If we are not crystal clear in the message that we're trying to communicate, if our story is not absolutely clear, guess what's going to happen? Your audiences, your prospects, your customers, your members are going to make up a story about you and what you are trying to say. And it will not be the story you intended, unless you intentionally tell them a story.”

If associations want their message to land clearly the first time, Howell says they should consider utilizing a basic framework that he calls the ABT (And, But, Therefore). This framework begins with a statement of agreement, continues with a complication, and concludes with a solution.

“We have the statement of agreement, which is typically positive. Here's what we want in our world for tomorrow,” Howell says. “But here's the problem, we don't have it because of this… this is what triggers the limbic brain. This is essentially the plot twist. Therefore, the consequence is that we need to do this together for all of us to survive or thrive. That's how the “And, But, Therefore” uses the three forces of story of agreement, contradiction, and consequence.”

Howell points to this framework as part of the reason why Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address continues to resonate more than 170 years later. He paraphrases it here:

“We were once a great and mighty nation. But now we're engaged in a great civil war. Therefore, we here highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain and here's what we need to do about it.”

Midway through Lincoln’s address he remarked, “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

For once, Lincoln was mistaken as his brief remarks endure as some of the most profound in American history.

Association RevUP: The Podcast That Will Get Everyone Talking about Revenue Health!

In this entertaining and educational series, association leaders and team members become active learners on a path to building an association that prioritizes the transformative impact of revenue at all levels.

Episode 3: RevUP Sales Skills | Brittany Shoul, Jay Blankenship, Lori Zoss Kraska, Park Howell 
In this episode, hear from sales experts on the skills needed for high-performing association business teams.