Published on 26th December 2017 in Leadership
What is it?
A formula to frame key messages into memorable and impactful stories. Business storytelling is the skilful sharing of appropriate stories attached to a business purpose.
What are the benefits?
The research suggests we all become more interested and engaged in something when it is delivered in a story form. Leadership is changing dramatically under the influences of technology and globalisation, and leaders who engage their staff get greater productivity. The role of leadership is moving from ‘inform and expect’ to ‘inspire and respect’. The leader’s mandate is to inspire action and storytelling gives them the opportunity to do that
There are many ways in which to develop powerful stories. One very simple and useful model comes from Dale Carnegie (who also wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People).
Alert the audience to the learning they are about to undertake, e.g. “I would like to tell you a story about leadership.” Be clear on the purpose and stick to a single message.
2. The Incident
The body of the story in which something happens, usually to a group or individual (the potential hero of the story). Filled with sensory information that enables people to construct vivid imagery, feelings and connections to the events and characters.
3. The Point
The message or point of the story. This is not explained outright, but appears as a consequence of interpreting the story for ourselves.
4. The Benefit to the Audience
When a story is crafted and told well, there is not need to point this out. But if you think they don’t understand it (e.g. they come from a different culture and don’t understand some of your own culture’s subtleties; they ask too many questions), then it is useful to explain.
It is not essential to follow the formula timing to the minute, but it is important to shape your message into a story to ensure you (1) share a short context of the situation, (2) spend the bulk of your message (80%) talking about the incident itself, being clear on what the main point or result is, and (3) make sure you highlight the key learning for audience benefit. There is also a physical element to telling stories which is to make sure you retain eye contact at all times with your audience and be conscious of your body language when telling the story.
How can I use this?
Develop a handful of business stories that can be used and refresh them regularly. Be aware that stories have a shelf-life. Although business storytelling takes time to master, the results justify the investment.
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