From Merriam-Webster: a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident. Synonyms: story, tale.
The artful placement of an anecdote is key to being persuasive in the American culture. Stories are convincing. They speak to our experience. Storytelling. Great leaders in business, politics, culture know how to speak to the imagination of their audience. Listen to former President Bill Clinton speak at the funeral service for Aretha Franklin:
The Byzantine official Procopius wrote three historical works in Greek. In the first two, he dealt with wars and public works projects, but the third was something of a departure from this kind of history. Referred to as “Anekdota,” from the Greek a-meaning “not,” and ekdidonai, meaning “to publish,” it contained bitter attacks on the emperor Justinian, his wife, and other notables of contemporary Constantinople.
Clinton’s nominating speech at the 2012 Democratic Convention nominating Barack Obama for a second term as president is considered a masterpiece in persuasion. It is full of fascinating anecdotes.