5 Secrets to Memorable Business Storytelling.
Business Storytelling. Everyone is talking about it, few do it well.
“Logic makes people think, but it is emotion, that makes people act.” Zig Ziglar.
It’s not about telling fairy tales
An effective story has key ingredients
In business storytelling, remember that you or your business is not the hero of the story, the customer is.
Without emotion, there is no change
Storytelling – a skill worth learning?
Where do people go wrong when storytelling in business?
If you want to create a memorable and sticky story there are a few golden rules to create a memorable story without giving too much away or “telegraphing”, and to keep people curious to know more right to the very end.
5 Secrets to Memorable Business Storytelling
1. Avoid Telegraphing when storytelling
It’s not necessary, to begin with, “I’m going to tell you a story” or another one I hear is “May I start by telling you a story?”. The best thing to do is jump right in and start your story, no need to ask permission or to “telegraph” what is ahead.
You can launch into your story with a short preamble line that sets the context. For example “I remember a time, back in the 70’s growing up..” or “As the sun was rising, I was walking along the beach this morning”. A good story that is relevant to your topic can be spontaneously woven into your material with a seamless transition between the content and your story.
2. Ensure every story has a plot
Every story needs a plot, otherwise, it’s not a story. People often think they are storytelling when all they are doing is sharing a short anecdote or a case study. A story has to have a plot. There is a lot of in depth information and theories on the structure and shape of stories. The most well-known, the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. There are 12 steps in the Hero’s Journey. If you are interested in storytelling, The Hero with a Thousand Faces is an in-depth read. For the average storyteller or someone new to this form of narrative, it is quite complex I have created a simple framework to use when plotting your story. It’s called the 5C’s of Compelling Storytelling™. The stages of the story plot are as follows Context, Challenge, Choice, Change, Carryout. If you are interested in creating your story using this plot contact me and I will send you a copy.
For the average storyteller, or someone new to this form of narrative, the Hero’s Journey can be too complex.
I have created a simple framework to use when plotting your story, called the 5C’s of Compelling Storytelling™.
The stages of the story plot are as follows:
If you are interested in creating a story using this framework you can receive your free download on this page.
3. Create characters to bring your story to life
Your story needs characters. Often when people tell a story they talk about other people in an impersonal way. My husband, the boss, my dog. Take your character is a step further and develop them. If we want our audience to feel drawn into our story, they need to be able to relate to our characters, either by seeing themselves as that character or someone they know. Experiment by giving your characters the personality and character traits that help others experience them more fully.
Name your characters. Tell your audience a few key things about them. For example, if my old grandmother is part of my story, I would tell you, “my Nana Doris is 89, despite her birdlike arthritic frame, she still loves to play Cockney sing-along tunes on the piano; she smells of mothballs, mixed with 711 perfume”.
By describing some of my Nana’s characteristics I’m able to paint a better picture of her in your mind.
4. Use dialogue in your storytelling
Rather than retell or regurgitate your story, bring your story to life with dialogue. Instead of saying, there is a lady who gets on the bus every day and tells people how many days there are until Christmas. This is actually a true story, there was a lady who did this every single day on the bus I caught to work. If I were retelling this story, in order to make this scene come to life, I may say something like, “every morning, this larger than life middle-aged woman would climb aboard the bus, and with a great big smile buy her tickets, then announce to the whole bus in a rather loud voice ‘today is Wednesday, there are 203 days until Christmas’, then she sat down and didn’t say another word”.
Instead of telling you what she said I would become that character for that line of dialogue. Try out voices and if relevant accents to take on any characteristics of that person. This brings your story to life.
5. What life lessons does your business storytelling offer to others?
The most important part of your story is the lessons you learned that you will share with others. I believe that storytelling is a great way to share your life wisdom. It’s not about saying, ‘Hey, look at me and where I am now”. Any good story has its’ share of challenge and struggles.
People don’t want to know how successful you are; they want to know what challenges you over overcame along your journey in order to get where you are today.
Are you prepared to share your challenges warts ‘n all? We have all made mistakes, there may be times when we wish we had done something differently or we messed up. This is what makes up the rich tapestry of life and becomes parts of your story.
Here is a free e-booklet called The 7 Secrets to Spectacular Storytelling
For years I’ve lived and breathed stories. As a pre-internet child, I grew up on the richness of stories, when there was little else to do! Apart from photographs, storytelling was the way we learned about our history, family, and life. As a young student nurse, often ill-equipped to deal with the challenges and traumas I faced during “on the job” training – if I didn’t have the “right” answers, I would share a story. I found to my surprise, that often this was the very thing a patient wanted in a dark hour to help them feel less afraid.
Join The Story Tribe
For anyone living in Perth, if you would like to find out more about storytelling workshops and live storytelling community events, visit Stories From The Heart and join the story tribe.
Lisa Evans, MBA is a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Keynote Speaker and TEDx Speaker Coach. Based in Perth, Australia, Lisa works with leaders globally to help them craft and deliver powerful presentations and compelling business stories.
One day Perth Public Speaking and Storytelling for Leaders Workshop – next one 30 August find out more here
Storytelling for Changemakers half day workshop – next one 19 August find out more here