Stories are at the heart of communication.
Ever since humans developed language we have used stories as a powerful method transfering knowledge. We teach our children through stories. We build relationships and bonds through sharing stories. We are entertained by stories.
I would argue that we spend much of our non-work time storytelling. Socially we understand that the best stories are engaging, entertaining, and memorable. Yet when it comes to business communications we have a tendency to throw all our experience out of the window and to rely on dry dusty data and abstract concepts that are neither engaging nor memorable.
I don’t know exactly why this is and to be honest I don’t much care. What I really care about is helping business people communicate with their customers and staff more effectively and I believe that storytelling is the way to go.
Storytelling has the power to bring abstract concepts to life.
- Powerful stories are sticky – we remember them
- Powerful stories are naturally infectious – we are compelled to share them with others
- Powerful stories have the ability to challenge and change us
So what makes a good story?
- A shift of perspective and context – It transports us to a different world
- A clear inciting incident – This is the catalyst that changes the direction of the story and draws us in
- A clear and satisfying end point -The payoff that we all expect and need
- An identifiable character or group whom we care about – this engages our emotions
- A clearly identified and palpable risk – What happens if we get it wrong? another strong emotional hook
Don’t take my word for it. Use the checklist above to test out the stories that you remember and then use it to help improve your use of storytelling in business.