I wish I knew how to make a clear message in college.
When I was a student, I started the College Democrats. I invited every young moderate in Oklahoma to a lobbyist’s house for a political party.
College kids from across the state showed up. Hundreds actually. A US Senator was there. Gubernatorial candidates. Big-time lobbyists. State and city officials.
The other political group for young people was there, too. The Young Democrats. And they hated me. I was trying to single handedly take over the college scene.
And I almost did.
But remember when I said I wish I had a message? I spoke in front of all those people without a single note in front of me.
I literally put zero thought into my speech.
Before I spoke, the President Pro Tempore of the state senate spoke. He was shaking. He had notes.
As I spoke, the room fell silent. With my jumbled thoughts, I had somehow insulted the entire party leadership in the room for not getting more college people involved. I publicly and accidentally blamed the established Young Democrats for this.
That’s not what I wanted to communicate. But it’s what came out of my mouth because I didn’t prepare.
I still feel shame thinking about it… and that was more than 20 years ago.
The point is that you should always prepare and always hone your communication skills, or you might insult the wrong people or say the wrong thing.
And for you, it could be worse. You could do something like this at work and jeopardize your career, instead of a political coup spearheaded by a dimwitted college kid.
What I am doing above is telling you a story so you will prepare when you have a presentation or speech that could influence others. If you don’t prepare and get the fundamentals down, there is no way you can tell an effective story. (You can do this short exercise and get started on your message.)
Storytelling in business can be powerful because it can show the consequences that someone might face, like above.
It can make you feel what the author feels, and it is extremely persuasive. Stories make you use more of your brain and help you retain the lessons and facts you heard.
These days consumers don’t want faceless brands. They want a human connection between themselves and the brands they support.
Why Is Business Storytelling Important?
Since the beginning of time, humans have told stories and recognized the art in storytelling. It’s a pivotal method of communication, both historically and on a day-to-day basis.
Stories aren’t just about entertaining, though. When implemented effectively, business storytelling can significantly boost a company’s worth. Using the best storytelling techniques for business helps solidify a sound marketing strategy, improve customer loyalty, and increase profit.
But what’s more, using it as a manager can boost your own credibility and persuade key stakeholders.
Better Connections Through Marketing and Advertising
If you look at any successful brand, the chances are high that their marketing strategy is powerful and consistent. Consumers want to feel connected to the brands they support.
The best way to connect with people is to evoke emotion or by being relatable. In an age where every business uses digital marketing, advertising must be smart. Cheap tactics or inconsistencies will turn potential customers away.
What’s your story? Is your business family-owned? Did you overcome hurdles to get where you are today?
Appeal to people by evoking emotion and telling a story they can relate to.
Storytelling Creates a Competitive Advantage
Consumers are exposed to an endless supply of information daily. It’s easy for any business to get overlooked or lost in the noise of advertising.
If your product is superior to others like it, it won’t matter unless it comes with a story. Consumers want to believe in their purchases. Plus, telling a story will set you apart from your competitors.
Storytelling Leads to Better Business Development
Every business begins with a story. How and why did you come up with the product or service you want to sell?
Use these beginnings to develop your story, so your customers get rich context when considering your product or service. Tell a story of how you were affected by a problem or need, which inspired you to build your brand. Customers identify with real-life situations and are more likely to trust you when they feel they can relate to the same problem or need.
Storytelling Techniques for Business
Not everyone is born with the gift of great storytelling, which is why business storytelling training can help you become a better communicator and grow your business.
Here are some communication tips that can help you brainstorm a story:
In communication, framing refers to the method you choose to communicate with your audience.
People think in narratives regularly, which is why framing through storytelling is an excellent means to grab an audience’s attention. When the speaker shares, they become relatable and human to potential customers. Trust starts to build, and the brand begins to mean something to those people.
- Tell a personal story to communicate your point like I did above.
- Use data to paint a picture.
- Use a metaphor or simile as a form os a story.
Dialogue and Listening
Business storytelling should always inspire connections between the communicator and the listener. When a representative or business tells a personal story about the company, that story becomes shareable and memorable.
Get your audience involved and use active listening to participate in their responses and opinions.
A good way to use this leadership style is to use dialogue and questions to find a story from customers or colleagues. Ask questions. Listen to others. Open communication, dialogue, and making your listener feel heard will continue to build your influence.
There is a term called sensemaking, which is a leadership trait that “refers to how we structure the unknown so as to be able to act in it.”
Basically, the leadership theory of sensemaking is a framework to lead. It’s best described in Harvard Business Review’s article, In Praise of the Incomplete Leader:
“Sensemaking (understanding the context in which a company and its people operate), relating (building relationships within and across organizations), visioning (creating a compelling picture of the future), and inventing (developing new ways to achieve the vision).”
Sensemaking enables leaders to build maps of their future so that they can learn from and act on it.
They communicate what to do and when to do it to achieve a goal, even though the company in in an unknown and uncertain environment. When business leaders employ sensemaking into their leadership strategy, they become more relatable to their audience.
Basically, the leader is able to set a vision with an actionable plan to get there. Usually when communicating vision, storytelling accompanies it.
Storytelling in Business Is Essential Today
Storytelling in business is one way to ensure that your product, service or idea stands out from the rest. Without storytelling, customers can’t develop emotional connections, trust, and understanding concerning your business.
Without the human factor, you won’t be able to build a brand that people revere. Without storytelling, you won’t create a competitive advantage for yourself, and you will miss out on potential connections through marketing and advertising.
One of the best ways to become a better storyteller is by developing sound communication and listening skills.
Don’t forget to think about how you want to frame your communication, too. What works best for each situation? Would your audience better respond to a metaphor, data, or a great story?
Are you ready to grow your communication and storytelling skills? Schedule your discovery call today so that we can help your business grow.