It’s 2019 and by now, everyone has heard about the undeniable power of business storytelling as a way to get ideas heard. Beyond helping you humanize and organize your thoughts, storytelling also impacts the way you are perceived at work. So, if you are serious about learning the most powerful way to quickly hook attention, spur people to action, and advance your career...this is it.
1. Boosts your executive presence. Not everyone naturally knows how to “own the room”, navigate difficult questions, and come across authentically during a presentation. By incorporating a story framework, you immediately ground your ideas in a cohesive thought process and benefit from a seamless way to advance the storyline. This ultimately helps you stay on track (ie. avoid tangents) and command the room.
2. Makes it easy to address varied audiences. Rarely is your audience totally homogenous. People you present to often serve different functions, at different levels, and have different needs. By incorporating storytelling techniques, you can “flex” your narrative to multiple audience’s care-abouts…and look like a superstar for being mindful of various points of view.
3. Elevates the meaning of your data. We all love data that validates our ideas…but data alone doesn’t tell the full story. Story structure forces us to isolate our key insights and serve up the right data at the right time, increasing the odds of your audience quickly buying into your ideas.
4. Increases cross-functional collaboration and communication. We often build our business communications in teams. Perhaps it’s a client pitch, a strategic plan, or a project update. Using a story structure provides a common “language” for teams – particularly when many parts must come together at the end. A clear, consistent storyline prevents the final output from becoming a non-cohesive “Frankendeck”. Scary!
5. Gives your audience a reason to care. Essential to all storytelling is the establishment of context. This is simply the reason anyone should care about your ideas! Nobody should wonder why they are sitting in a room, on a conference call, in a virtual meeting or reading that email.
6. Helps you choose *relevant* visuals. Yes, we all love gorgeous visuals…but make no mistake – looks alone won’t grant automatic approval of your ideas. Developing a story arc will make it clear how many key messages you have to communicate, making it easy to choose visuals that correspond. The point is to first “net-out” your ideas, then bring them to life visually with intention.
7. Reminds you to reflect on your audience’s perspective. So many times we present our ideas by putting ourselves, our products, or our company at the forefront. Storytelling methodology forces you to think about your audience first…why are they there? What do you want then to know and do with your information?
8. Keeps your presentation from getting hijacked (often by impatient executives.) Most of us have experienced a roomful of senior management who sidetrack the conversation or change the focus of a meeting. It can easily cause us to get lost and rattle our confidence. Having a clear story roadmap will get you back on track with your original agenda no matter how far off these questions take you.
9. Humanizes your message. When we tell stories to a friend or colleague, we effortlessly add color and texture to our ideas. Business communication should be no different. Story structure is designed to make people feel something.
10. Provides guardrails for staying on track. A well-planned story is like a chapter book. At any time you know exactly where you are. The story framework gets you to immediately get back on track. Phew!
11. Helps you consider what your audience already knows. The process of developing a business story ensures that you make adjustments to how deeply you dive into details and background, based on existing knowledge and context. So don’t bore that audience with facts and data they already know. Be mindful and prepare appropriately.
12. Prevents “freeze-ups” during a live presentation. Everyone has experienced nerves and anxiety during a presentation. The higher the stakes, the loftier the bigshots you present to, the more likely you are to freeze-up. Nothing will give you more confidence and feeling of protection than having a story framework that helps you navigate where you are headed.
13. Focuses your ideas. You’re FULL of great ideas. But having too many unfocused, untethered ideas can be counterproductive. Story structure ensures you isolate a BIG Idea that is woven into the presentation from start to finish. This is particularly vital when working on team presentations.
14. Offers easy flexibility (AKA “the pivot”.) You never know how quickly people will grasp your ideas or how deep they want to go. By grounding everything with context, storytelling lets you nimbly jump around in your presentation backwards or forwards depending on how much information your audience is craving.
15. Develops careers. There is no dispute, being able to deliver a clear message that inspires action is a career game-changer. Storytelling is the best way to ensure you or your team will have a simple way to organize ideas. Goodbye meandering ideas, facts, or data…hello storytelling!
If you're ready to bring corporate storytelling to your team in 2019, learn more about our workshop here.