The Cat in the Hat. Charlotte’s Web. The Harry Potter series. The Three Little Pigs. Which of these is your childhood favorite? Parents are often reminded of the benefits of reading stories to (and with) their children. Children become 100 times smarter — or something like that.
As adults, we often forget how to tell a story. We have PowerPoint presentations, emojis and status updates, but real, good stories (and storytellers) are few and far between. The childlike wonder, emotions and memories that come from hearing an animated and interesting story stay with us through adulthood. Stories build relationships. Statistics can’t. This is why storytelling should be a natural part of your business development process.
Storytelling: a Timeless Skill
A handshake once sealed our word or cemented an obligation. But the world is more virtual now. Instead of asking you questions in person, people can accept or reject you without ever meeting you. You need a way to communicate your values, to virtually shake the hand of everyone you “meet” even if they’re visiting your website or social media networks. You can do that through storytelling – personal stories, your clients’ success stories, current events stories and historical stories.
Anyone can tell a good story. You’ve been telling them since you learned to talk. As you grew up, your skills were refined, going from nonsensical and childish to orderly and polished. You had imaginative thinking in early school years, then high school creative writing and writing 101 during your freshmen year of college. Then your first employer probably trained you on the company writing style guide and rules.
Authenticity is Key
Now more than ever, businesses, leaders and individuals have an opportunity to use stories to stand out, make change and spread their word. The emotions raised by hearing your story will be real; make sure the story you’re telling is authentic.
- Is it true and personal?
- Does it create emotion in the listener?
- Are the sentences varied in length to create interest?
- If telling the story, do you practice emphasizing details and pausing to let the listener catch up?
- Are you brief, yet engaging?
- Are you making a clear point about your brand or service?
- Are you summarizing with a call to action or persuasion?