When is the last time you sat through a power point presentation with graphs and long lists of bullet points? What thoughts did you have about the meeting that evening when you were going over the day's information?
Have you ever watched a TED Talk? Speakers get 18 minutes to give you an idea worth spreading. Were you drawn into what was said? Did you remember the essence of what you heard the next day or the following week? Just about every presentation has its share of stories, mostly personal. And these stories are passed from one person to many others.
Isn't that what you want for your business?
You want folks to know that your leadership development program is amazing. Tell about how someone you never thought would succeed is now a business leader. Tell how that happened.
You want your products to make a difference. Let people know how what you sell has helped someone special.
Your company went through a crisis and is now stable again. Brag and tell the story about how you made it from red to black.
Why is story telling so engaging?
It is our oldest form of communication. Think of your ancestors sitting late at night around the fabled campfire. This is where the elders would transmit the important information of the day and add the spice of who succeeded and the story of what happened.
Business is a heroic journey and everyone has some remarkable story to tell. Take time to craft your story. Actually two stories: one is about why you are so passionate about what you do; the other is about why you are so proud of this wonderful offspring, your business.
Whether you are the founder or one of the many working to make the company grow, you have a story. Tell it.
Here are the three key aspects of business storytelling:
- Make it clear: Know the point you want to make and make it at the beginning of the story. Is it about how you foster creativity, how you develop team cooperation, how you invest in diversity and inclusion, or how you keep free of legal hassles? Find the story that fits.
- Make it universal: Everyone can relate to times at work that include caring and conflict. There is always stress and disappointment to learn from. We are truly more similar than we are different and story helps peel away the outer layer to show how we are all connected.
- Make it personal: Nothing touches us more than when another is willing to be authentic and vulnerable. You do not have to share all the details. We teach that telling the truth is not spilling your guts. However, showing human frailties does not make you less of a person, in fact it makes you more.
When stories are told that strike a chord in us we remember them and the person who tells the story. Take the risk, stretch past your comfort zone. You may give someone hope who is in despair or you may urge someone to take a risk that would have been dormant without hearing you.
Give the gift of your story this holiday season. It is priceless.