I talk a lot about storytelling and why it matters for your business.
Let me give you an example. A story.
One day, a few months ago, I was on stage, moderating in a Clubhouse room. A lady came in who was clearly quite passionate about her startup business, which was in the recycling industry. She was asked to tell the room about her business. She launched into a fairly lengthy technical description of her business that involved statistics about climate change, the technical and scientific elements of her process, and details about her capital requirements and needs. It was all accurate and everyone could see that she was smart, accomplished and invested in her business. But no one was inspired. No one connected to her as a person. Everyone took in the information. The general sentiment was, “Good for you. That’s needed. Best of luck.”
The Story Connects Us
I then asked this lady to start over and tell us a story, the origin story, even, of her business journey. She did. She talked about how she had been in corporate environments for over twenty years and had seen the wanton waste and disregard for the environment in certain industries. She talked about how much she loves the natural beauty of the world around her and how heartbroken she was when no one in leadership seemed to want to hear or make even simple changes that would lessen the impact on the earth. So, one day, she decided that it would be up to her to make those changes, to be a leader, to be the change she wanted to see in the world.
Then she talked, in plain language but filled with passion and enthusiasm, about her business idea and the difference it would make. She asked for help. She asked for everyone to do their part in their own part of the world. And she cast a vision of the kind of world we could live in if we are willing to step up and get involved.
The energy in the room was markedly different. Suddenly, everyone had questions. People wanted to help, with ideas, with referrals, and with support. When she got out of her head and told us a HEART story, we connected. It was magical.
I use an acronym to remind me of the elements I want to make sure I include in the stories I tell. The acronym is WINS:
WORDS – Pay attention to the words you use. They should be what we refer to as plain language – something a grade nine student could digest. You’ll want to use what I call adjectives with intention. Adjectives with intention are words that resonate with people, describing the pain and desire the subject of the story is experiencing. Pro tip: this involves some pre-planning and maybe a thesaurus!
INSIGHT – A really good story contains insights. Insights are little nuggets of wisdom that a person can take on chew on later. They are truisms that give people pause for thought. Something they can take an apply to their own lives or situations. Something that makes them feel aligned with or connected to you.
NARRATIVE – This is where the art of storytelling comes in. The narrative is essentially how you block your story. It needs to be easy for the listener to follow. As you practice, you will learn which details of a story are important to include and how much detail is too much, causing the listener to get lost or wander off in their attentiveness. I use a process called 4H story block that offers a really smart and easy guideline to follow in crafting a story.
Here’s an exercise you can do to practice: take an old joke you know, take the 4H process (which you can get from me by asking, if you haven’t already heard my training on it) and plug the joke into the story blocking. Run through it a couple of times and you’ll see how easy and good it feels to tell a good story with a compelling narrative.
SWAY – The point of storytelling in business is, yes, to help people connect to you so they can know you, like you and trust you. But the bigger point is for you to have an influence or sway. You have a message about which you are passionate. You want to make a change in the world through your business. So, without being obnoxious or aggressive, tell you story and speak your truth in the framework of your story. This will move people toward you!
The advent season is a great time to share some personal stories with your audience. Let people see you, hear you, and come to know you. Get out there with emails, social posts, videos, cards and whatever other forms of communication you have at your disposal and share your story and speak your truth for WINS.
And, of course, let me know how it goes!
Stay on Point!