Post by Sara Knowles
1. Storytelling brings clarity and cohesion to your communications and for leaders in business the art of capturing and telling stories is one worth developing and nurturing. Stories connect on an emotional level, are memorable and are, therefore, one of the most useful forms of communication in business today.
2. In companies a storytelling culture starts from the top. Critically, a corporate strategy needs to have a story at its heart – it is just the start of a change process that sets your strategic direction and applies to developing your internal and external communications that impact client, employee and public relations.
3. Most professions are amenable to storytelling. Let’s take lawyers for example – their professional practice is centred around story sharing and telling e.g. case law; client consultations; gathering evidence that tells the story. Accountants and financial advisers demonstrate the difference they make to clients through stories – where they’ve saved clients money or enabled substantial tax relief, ultimately enabling their clients to fulfil a dream or overcome a hardship. These stories have far more reach and resonance than the usual, ‘We’re unique because of our people/expertise/investment in training/commitment to quality…etc.’ – Everyone says that! But what makes you unique are the stories you are able to share to demonstrate your value, what makes you distinctive and ultimately remarkable (literally, worthy of remark, worth talking about). Let’s not forget, as well, the stories that others tell about you that speak volumes – we provided an example of this in an earlier post.
4. Once that core story has been defined at Board/Director level there’s also a need to embed storytelling in your company’s managerial & leadership practice and all aspects of corporate communication. This applies to when you’re presenting, public speaking, pitching, networking and meeting clients. The implications of not nurturing a good storytelling culture can be perilous and far-reaching as demonstrated in this story of a recent encounter I had at a networking event.
5. Through story sharing you find out what’s actually going on inside the organisation. In a safe environment, people share stories about real-life experiences. This can be facilitated within a company to enable regular story sharing and capture that can be integrated with knowledge sharing, project management and CRM tools.
6. Stories are like mental Velcro – they stick! Leaders who use stories to communicate tend to connect with their audience on a deeper emotional level, and that reaction is stored in the audience’s memory. Facts are poorly retained; stories sell your message and stick around.
7. Finally, in a story-based culture it’s easier for the wider workforce to feel connected with the bigger Strategic Story. That’s because you’re continually encouraging them to see the contribution they’re making to the business. Through stories employees understand what good practice and success ’sounds like’, motivating them to raise standards.