The Power of Storytelling In Business
“No doubt about it, the best speakers are good storytellers. The best writers are good storytellers, the best leaders are good storytellers, and the best teachers and trainers and coaches are good storytellers. It might even be argued that the best parents are good storytellers.” Evidently, storytelling is not confined to writers. Storytelling is an important and effective tool that every person should be investing time into developing.
Rewriting the Definition of StoryTelling
As leaders, people naturally listen to us, whether it is out of obligation or genuine desire. But storytelling not only makes you more desirable to listen to, but it can help you get your message across more effectively and with enhanced clarity. When adults hear the word ‘storytelling' they think of fairytales and children's books. The idea of storytellers often is equated with strictly fiction and being loose with the truth. But storytelling in the business world uses honesty and emotion to convey a powerful message and establish a genuine connection with those listening. Good storytelling is a key to influencing those we are trying to reach with our message.
Storytelling is a point of difference in business. Sure, facts and figures are great selling points, but how about a story that reaches the emotions of your employees and customers, and makes you a more personable business? How about having a lasting impact that doesn't rely on customers remembering percentages and numbers? How about creating a lasting connection with customers who will return to your company because you weren't afraid of telling a story? Good storytelling does more than just recount the past, it brings connection, emotion, and loyalty.
So, instead of thinking of storytelling as fables and fairytales, think of it as a tool that you should be sharpening, no matter what industry or position you find yourself in! Relationships and connections are central to the life of business, and storytelling is a powerful means of getting these things. Forget childish stories, businesses aren't immune to the wonders that storytelling brings.
Top Gun: The Ultimate Fighter Pilot Storytelling
For me, it was the stories I read as a child about fighter pilots' airborne jousting during WW1 and WW2, the comradery, and the challenge of 1 v 1 aerial combat. The romantic side of flying, specifically as a fighter pilot, built a connection that to this day, 40 years after my first aviation-related reading experience, endures and defines most of what I do. At the bar after a week in the Squadron, the stories of wins and losses were recounted. This forged a deep connection as a team and sense of purpose that was well defined and reinforced each and every day. Through storytelling we pushed ourselves to the very edge of our capability, we wanted to be like those we admired most.
As a teenager, one of the most important stories I ever experienced was that of Maverick and Goose, through the movie Top Gun. I'm not going the lie, (SPOILER ALERT) the reality of the fighter pilot is quite different to the movie, not that I knew that at the time! In the wake of the new Top Gun 2 movie's release, from personal experience, I know there will be a new generation of fighter pilots that are inspired by the story. Inspired by the speed, the noise, the frenetic pace and the challenges of operating at the very edge of human performance.
Without those stories, I wouldn't have encountered my deep love for aviation when I did. Those stories are still etched in my mind and they still continue to stir my passion for what I do. You too can share stories that do the same for others! It isn't limited to movies and books, the power of storytelling is well within your reach! You might be thinking, what sets GOOD storytelling apart from storytelling? Well, let's find out!
A Story that Stands Out
The first point of call is your audience and the purpose of your story. Who are you trying to reach? Who is your brand, product, or business designed for? And once you know who you are telling your story to, you need to ask yourself why. Is it an introduction to who you are as a company? Is it the story of a product and how it will shape the lives of those who buy it? Now to go beyond a simple this is who we are and why you should partake in the company.
In any good story, there is a protagonist and antagonists. There are things that stand in the way, and a hero who overcomes the obstacles. This is no exception for business stories. People everywhere are facing visible and invisible challenges every day, and the story of overcoming is sure to elicit empathy and emotion from those reading. Leaders, students, accountants, café owners, and every person under the sun understand obstacles, so why hide the most common piece of ground we all share?
The reality is this, businesses are not immune from challenges, and so hiding the stories of overcoming daily challenges makes customers feel that you aren't telling the truth to some degree. You don't have to own a business to know that there would be endless challenges that you face. Share them, in a powerful story of conquering what seemed impossible. Get customers involved in the process by having a place for reviews. Reviews are people's stories about their interactions with your company or your product, reviews convey powerful messages to those who read them (whether they're good or not). Make the ways that you tell your stories diverse! Speak them, write them, design them, print them! There are so many ways to spread your story and influence far and wide, make use of them!
The Power of Storytelling is in Your Hands
Business and storytelling really do go hand in hand! In a world of inauthenticity, facts, figures, and filters give your customers a really good story! One that evokes emotion and empathy, one that enhances influence, one that creates genuine connections. Storytelling is a tool that you would be wise for sharpening! And in my personal opinion, rewatching Top Gun is a form of storytelling research…if you needed an excuse to watch it again! Be real and watch connection and loyalty flow throughout your business.
Indeed. (2021). Storytelling in business: Definition and how to draft a good story. Indeed. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/storytelling-in-business
Sah, A. (2018). Why storytelling is a powerful strategic business tool. Word Lift. https://wordlift.io/blog/en/storytelling-powerful-strategic-business-tool/#:~:text=That's%20why%20storytelling%20is%20a,that%20are%20like%20short%20stories.
Schneider, E. (2021). How to use storytelling in business to build a captivated audience. CXL. https://cxl.com/blog/storytelling/