Stories are a great way to share ideas, to inspire those around us to action, to explain abstract concepts and to persuade clients to support recommendations. Storytelling in business has grown in popularity and is considered an essential part of day-to-day communication. Storytelling has the power to connect people and build trust in business and these felt experiences can often lead to confident decision making and action.
A core skill for selling a concept is to create a shared understanding amongst a group of stakeholders. Project teams often need to understand complex client business problems, offer insights, determine meaningful solutions, compile presentations, and provide recommendations for improvement. When concepts are abstract, heavy in data, filled with technical jargon and unfamiliar to your audience, forming a shared understanding can be challenging when only relying on the facts. Communicating raw data may not be enough to convince teams and stakeholders to support a vision, project approach or implementation recommendation.
A compelling, captivating, and meaningful narrative:
- Allow your stakeholders to form a connection between the facts and why it matters to them.
- Enables you to simplify complex concepts in a way that is relatable and engaging to your stakeholders.
- Sparks the imagination of your listeners and can be a great source for generating new ideas.
A good story is also engaging and able to draw stakeholders in, grabbing their attention, evoking empathy, and allowing them to visualise the story elements. Storytelling is a valuable technique for ensuring ideas and concepts stick. Good stories stick longer in your stakeholder’s mind than simply listing facts.
To craft a great story:
Know your audience. Identify what your audience cares about most and tailor your story to appeal to those areas of interest. Are they predominantly concerned with costs? Do they need to adhere to a strict timeline? Understanding your stakeholders key concerns will help you tell the right story. You want to avoid sharing information that is not valuable as this could lead to an irrelevant story being shared.
Create a meaningful message. A great story is always underpinned by a meaningful message which motivates the audience to action. What do you want your stakeholders to do after hearing your story? Always have a clear understanding of the call to action you want to convey and how the story relates to the next steps you want your listeners to take.
Be specific. Great stories are specific, therefore consider examples which you can include in your story to strengthen your message. To ensure stakeholders remain engaged, avoid examples that may detract from your core message. The best storytellers often use their own experiences as examples to illustrate their message. Using specific characters will also give your listener’s someone to identify with or root for.
Appeal to the heart. Captivate the audience with an emotional connection. Research has shown that emotions play a vital part in decision-making. Infusing your message with the right emotion can connect your listeners to a greater purpose.
Sequence your ideas logically. Ensure that your story has a clear beginning, middle and end. The beginning should capture your listeners attention, the middle should explain the key points and the end should be an explicit call to cation.
Keep it simple. The most memorable stories are often simple and straightforward. Are you rambling? How can you refine your story? To avoid any confusion and ensure your message is received clearly by your stakeholders, remember to keep your story concise and to the point.
Storytelling in business can paint a picture in the minds of your stakeholders and inspire change. The ability to tell a good story is crucial to get buy-in from stakeholders to act. Using storytelling to make your ideas stick is a competitive advantage that everyone should have in their skills toolbox.
If you’d like to chat to us about crafting the perfect story for your next big pitch, get in touch by using the contact form on our contact page here.