I don’t know about you, but I find it–what’s the best word here–? “quaint” that so many articles, books, and blogs write about the power of story to inspire employees, win customers, brand products and services, and close business. For heaven’s sake, story-telling has been around since cavemen days. Aesop, Jesus, and Grimm were successfully using stories to communicate their messages centuries before today’s self-styled pundits who seem to have suddenly “discovered” the power of narrative to excite our right brains and move us to action. The fact is, you tell business stories every day. The question isn’t, Do you appreciate the power of stories to get results? The question is, How effective are your stories?
What’s Your Story?
If you demo software or sell a service or product, you are telling a value story. If you present updates or research findings, you are telling a status story. If you are requesting resources, you are telling an investment justification story. If you are advocating for procedural or operational changes, you are telling an increased productivity or cost savings story.
In all cases, your story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is the current situation which has some need or problem in it, plus your message, and/or the expected results. The middle supports that message. The end summarizes your discussion and moves to a next step. Mixed in throughout are examples, stories, and metaphors that help listeners see what your information really means. Both types of content are necessary. The listener’s left brain needs facts and logic to justify his decision and his right brain needs the visual and emotional satisfaction to feel good about that decision.
Add a dash of creativity and original visuals and the stories become even more engaging, meaningful, memorable and successful.
Once Upon a Time…
By all means, let’s acknowledge the power of story to engage and influence others. But let’s not treat it like a novel idea that has suddenly descended from the skies in 2016. For anyone who has been paying attention, important communications have always had a narrative arc. Incorporate that understanding into your presentations and you will be very effective as well.
Anne Miller is a leading presentation and demo specialist, speaker, and coach who helps people in high stakes situations win business, sell ideas, and rally others to a cause. For more information and free ebook, visit www.annemiller.com