I am a big believer in storytelling in business and using stories to make a point. If you’ve seen one of my presentations or trainings, you’ve seen me tell a story – you’ve experienced a story with me. Storytelling is about tapping into a passion about some topic. It is about taking the listener to a place that is visceral, visual, concrete, emotional and possibly unexpected.
For many years, I have used the formula for a good story that I learned from Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion.
- A story is a fact
- Wrapped in emotion
- That compels us to take action
- That transforms us in some way
The key to this formula is that a good story compels people to take action, and that action transforms or helps them in some way. I always try to re-live a story, not just re-tell a story. An important aspect of storytelling is to make it sound fresh and alive. Re-living the story gives you that same excitement as when you first experienced it or heard it. It is the kind of passion that you need to apply to your business.
The Power of Storytelling While Networking
The power of storytelling in a networking situation is that it captures people’s attention and provides a way to connect with them on a more personal level.
A trait that great networkers develop is to have a story that is theirs and that is personal, coming from positive or negative background – it doesn’t matter. An effective story creates a link from your experience to what you’re doing in your business now. This helps people understand the connection between where you come from, to what you do, and why you do it.
Successful networkers also have a specific ask. When the business relationship has been established and you are at the point where you can ask for a referral, or they ask how they can help you, be prepared. Have clarity about exactly what you want and know how to concisely share your goal or idea with your networking partners.
Storytelling Can Be Inspiring
Dr. Mark Goulston has said that “a story is a portable storage unit for one’s dreams, fears, hopes, humor and sorrows that people visit–or visits people–from time to time for them to stay in contact with their humanity.”
When you include stories while training your teams or employees, you may find increased engagement and attentiveness. Storytelling can help them embrace the new ideas you are sharing or better retain the information you’re giving. The story you tell may inspire someone to set a bigger goal or move beyond their comfort zone to achieve more in their professional life. Sharing a story, a personal part of yourself, can make a deeper and more personal connection to those you work with, including your customers and clients. Effective storytelling is an important part of one’s emotional intelligence.
Some years ago, I was at a storytelling event hosted by the Academy Award-winning movie producer, Peter Guber, who said that “what if” is more powerful than “how to” in a story. Very true, indeed. Getting people to think of the possible rather than simply look at the present can truly help make a great story. And a great story can make a great impact in business.
Have you experienced a great story in your work or professional life?
Do you use storytelling in your business?
I would love for you to share in the comment section below.