“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” Steve Jobs
Are you a leader who wants to inspire change and hold the room’s attention with your storytelling? Maybe you know the benefits of storytelling for leaders, but you don’t know how or where to start?
You may have questions such as; What stories can leaders share? How to find the right story for a presentation? My industry is technical, so how can I tell a story and remain credible?
Storytelling for leaders who want to communicate more effectively
If you are eager to become a better storyteller, read on. If you want to discover some practical tips to enhance your storytelling, let’s chat.
Boring PowerPoint presentations, reading from notes, a lack of interaction and dull monotones will not move any room to action. Leaders who have incorporated storytelling into their spoken word communication are ahead of the rest.
When you add a story to your data, you can simplify your material to offer greater meaning, interpretation, and insight.
Humans are hardwired to tell stories, and in the distant past, it was natural to us. Think back to when you were younger. You developed the ability to tell stories (often a tall tale) by the time you were around four years old. Then, like many skills, you became more self-conscious and less carefree and confident about sharing.
Storytelling is how we make sense and meaning; we can create order out of chaos and turn random ideas into something coherent.
We begin to weave our stories from the rich tapestry of our lives.
You may remember Aristotle’s Triangle of Rhetoric from high school or tertiary studies.
Aristotle believed that a speaker’s ability to persuade an audience depends on how well they apeal to that audience in logos, ethos, and pathos.
Our ethos is clear cut as leaders and includes your position, title, experience, skills, and qualification. In other words, do you have the credibility to be leading the room?
Logos is the area that many leaders, particularly technically trained, feel comfortable about. Logos is an appeal to logic and is a way of persuading an audience with reason, using facts and figures.
You are probably comfortable with this one. But before you deliver another data-rich PowerPoint deck with charts and figures, give a thought to the power of pathos.
Pathos is emotion and imagination, as well as beliefs and values. And is a way of convincing an audience by creating an emotional response to an argument or story. When considering pathos, we can use vivid examples, details and images to engage the listeners’ emotions and imagination and appeal to the values and beliefs they relate to or care about.
Storytelling for leaders 6 story types
There are different types of stories that make up an overall narrative strategy. Here are the six indispensable stories that sit well in any leader’s communication toolkit.
1 The Signature Story
2 The Founding Story
3 The Client Journey
4 The Aspiration Story
5 The Values Story
6 The Change Story
There are plenty of ways you can engage with a story and there are a few basic storytelling guidelines to consider
You may end up with multiple stories, and storytelling consultant Paul Smith recommends ten stories every leader can tell. A good starting point that I suggest is to draft your signature story.
What is a Signature Story?
According to Aaker and Aaker, researchers at Stanford University, “A signature story is an intriguing, authentic narrative with a strategic message that clarifies the brand, and the business strategy.”
Creating your Signature Story
The first step is to mine your life for stories. Story Mining is the discovery stage, finding those stand out moments from your life and turning them into a story structure.
There are four phases in creating your stories.
When we are story mining, we dig for those natural resources to uncover what we have and then refine the more significant pieces until we have that golden nugget.
6 Story mining questions to get you started
1 Write down 50 things that have led you to today. Include the wins, the losses, the ups and downs, and the defining moments. In doing this exercise, you will capture significant moments in your life that hold your uniqueness’s valuable lessons.
2 What has been the most significant point in your life leading to your career or business? What was the catalyst for that change if you had had a career switch? Was it by design or default? Did life throw a curveball at you?
3 Why does what you do matter so much? This can be answered from a personal or a career perspective. This is the opportunity to articulate your passion for what you do. Your values and what you hold dear to you may be added to this part.
4 Why should others care? This question reframes your story to address the WIIFM – what’s in it for me? This is where you make your story relatable.
5 How does this make you different? What is unique about your journey, your leadership and your story?
6 How do you help others? Be clear about what you stand for and how you are of service to others.
No one cares about your story until they care how your story helps them – Lisa Evans
When we can balance logic and emotion, we give our listeners a reason to care. If they dont care, they dont listen. It’s simple.
Want to know about storytelling for leaders?
If you are based in Australia, you may be interested in hosting a facilitated storytelling for leader’s workshop. I have delivered these workshops to groups worldwide, both in-person and online. There is a format to suit every group, from two hours to two days. Click the button below, to find out how you can get ahead in your communication using the power of storytelling.
Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, improvisational actor, and host of the Business Chat Podcast.
She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations.
If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my e-book – How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.