We're doing lots of storytelling work with our customers at the moment and I can't believe how far I've come, let alone them. From my days as a journalist when I thought that storytelling in business was just another management fad, to really seeing how it makes communication stick, the conversion's complete.
As Denning put it much better than I could in his 2004 HBR article,
“At a time when corporate survival often requires disruptive change, leadership involves inspiring people to act in unfamiliar, and often unwelcome, ways, mind-numbing cascades of numbers or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even the most logical arguments usually won’t do the trick. But effective storytelling often does.”
I’ve lost track of how many presentations I've heard which would have been improved, if not transformed, with a good, relevant and interesting story. Instead we seem insistent on dull slides with bullet points galore, boring our audiences with stuff we think they should know, without helping them to really care about why. Remember, just because you’re speaking or presenting, it doesn’t place a duty on your audience to listen. You have to constantly fight for their attention. You have to make them care.
Stop talking about strategic priorities and pillars and start telling stories about what's important to the business and why. It’s almost as simple as that! There are copious articles about storytelling and hundreds of great clips on YouTube – think Steve Job’s Stanford commencement speech from 2005. There are techniques and tools, courses and crib sheets. But, nothing will beat having a go yourself and practicing telling the right story at the right time, for the right impact. Always put your audience first, considering what type of story will work for them. What type of influence do you want to have? What do they already know about the topic you’re exploring? What story will truly interest and engage them?
Last week I ran a two day storytelling workshop with a group of managers. On day 1 we explored why storytelling works and how you build a great story. On day 2, nothing but practice. I left knowing that boring presentations were a thing of the past, at least for those 16. And it was the practice that did it.
Find out more about how you can transform your communication through storytelling by viewing our free recorded webinar here: http://ow.ly/YqkIl