There are many reasons to tell a story. A story is a step beyond hello.
In the work world, it adds context to a product launch and color to an otherwise dry business presentation. In your personal life, a funny story will take the awkwardness right out of a first date. When meeting someone new at a friend’s party, a common question is: “oh, how do you know each other?” That’s your clue! Tell a story.
If you’re asked to give a speech at a wedding or a memorial service, your unique story about “the time that he...” will make the event more memorable for everyone.
When you share a story, you’re inviting your listener to share your experience by taking them on a journey. Using narrative structure enables your listener to truly understand the point that you are making. A well-told story goes to the heart of your subject matter, as it fosters deeper connection, understanding and empathy.
A story can be told almost anywhere. The specific details, such as length and tone, depend on the situation.
On a professional level, a story will elevate your message, with co-workers or clients. Internal reasons to tell a story include: on-boarding and training new employees, motivating your current team, team building exercises and explaining new procedures. Externally, stories can help you make a sale or gain the trust of a new client.
If you tell a potential customers “we’re the best company for you,” they may not believe you. But if you tell them a story which shows your work in action, this is a true testimonial and is much more believable. That’s why case studies can be so powerful.
Stories can also be used to convince investors and new partners to back your company. And, if you’re searching for a job, sharing a story that demonstrates your integrity, skill or experience may be exactly why they hire you.
Stories will enhance any kind of public speaking, as well as press interviews, or public relations. It’s not a coincidence that politicians tell us about “meeting Mrs Smith, whose been working at the local supermarket for 20 years…” They’re grabbing our attention with a story. Stories build connections.
I tell stories and teach storytelling to everyone from business leaders to high schoolers to professional performers. I’ve seen how learning a few storytelling skills can change lives — for both the storyteller and the listener. Entertaining and enlightening, a great story takes us all on a sensorial, emotional journey. Intangible benefits from this shared experience include new perspectives, new friendships, alliances, empathy and understanding.
What makes each story unique comes down to your specific goal for telling that story. Do you want a second date or a job? Do you want to motivate, educate or entertain? What do you want your audience to feel? To tell a great story, you’ll ask yourself why you’re communicating in the first place. And that’s a great place to start.