6 Ways to Earn with Effective StorytellingNitin Karkara
Welcome to Storytelling
Storytelling is the oldest form of communication known to man, yet it’s surprisingly under utilized in the business world today. And when it is used, it is often done poorly. And maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising. There’s something about storytelling, a misconception, that people think that it’s something you’re born with, or you’ll never be any good at. And that’s just not the case. Storytelling can be learned and that’s what I’m here to help you do.
There is a pattern to good business storytelling, and that’s what I intend to teach you. Specifically we’ll start with:
- Why you should be telling stories;
We’ll move to when you should tell stories, and when not to, but mostly we’re going to focus on how:
- What’s the structure of a well-told business story? How do you get emotional elements into it?
And the element of surprise.
- And how do I make sure my story is real and tangible and concrete?
If you do those things, you’ll be well on your way to being a great business storyteller.
Why Storytelling is Important?
One of my favorite observations about storytelling comes from Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, who said that “Every great leader is a great storyteller.” And that’s what we’re going to talk about, is why you should be using more storytelling at work.
Five Reasons why storytelling is important:
First of all, storytelling is simple. Anybody can do it. You don’t need an MBA, you don’t need an engineering degree, or a degree in journalism.Anybody can do it.
Secondly, storytelling is timeless.It’s always worked and it always will.
Third, stories are demographic-proof. Stories work with infants and children, they work with grown-ups, they work with new hires, they work with CEOs. Nobody’s immune to the power of story.
Fourth, stories are contagious. You tell a great story, and it will travel on it’s own. Your policy memo probably won’t do that.
Fifth, stories make things easier to remember. There’s studies that have shown that factsare 20 times more likely to be remembered when they’re embedded in a story than when they’re just given to people as a list.
What is the right time and moment to tell a story?
- If you want to set a vision for the organization. That’s a great time for a story. After all, what is a vision but a picture of the future so compelling that people want to follow it.
- Secondly, if you have to make a recommendation or a big sales pitch, or just give a presentation to your co-workers. That’s a great time to use stories.
- If your job is to set the culture and values of the organization, or if you just want to contribute to that, stories are a great tool to do that.
- Stories help with inspiration and motivating an organization too. This might be the most obvious one. You can imagine the CEO at the end of the year on stage in front of the whole organization giving a very charismatic speech.
- The last one I’d share with you, is helping people be more creative and innovative.Now, you can’t just tell people, be more creative, or you need to think outside-the-box more. The human brain just doesn’t work that way. But through a great story, you can lead them there.
How should you structure your story?
There are three essential parts on how you should structure your story:
We’ll talk about each of those, starting with context.
- Where and when of the story answer the three questions:
- Who is the hero?
- What do they want?
- Who or want is getting in the way?
- Must have context
- Hero does battle with the villain
- At least on up and down
- Comes to a resolution
- Tells how the story ends
- Convey the lesson to learn
Why Emotions are the most important part of storytelling?
People make decisions in an irrational, subconscious, emotional way in the right half of their brain and then rationalize it and justify it later in the left side of their brain.
Okay. So if you want to influence people’s opinions and behavior and decisions, in other words leadership. You need to influence them emotionally. And only a story can do that.
In fact one of the best definitions and shortest definitions I’ve ever heard of a storycame from novelist E.M. Forster who noted that a story is nothing more than a fact plus an emotion.
How surprise plays a critical role in storytelling?
Surprise plays a critical element in a scary movie or a book. But can it play a role in a business story?
And the answer is yes, it can.
In fact, it plays two roles. At the beginning it does something important, which is, gets your audience’s attention. It gets them to stop focusing on whatever they were doing, and focus on you and listen to your story. But at the end of the story, it plays an even more important role, I believe, and that’s this. To get them to remember your story and your lesson for a long period of time.
The reason is, because, human memories aren’t formed in our heads like a digital camera takes a picture, (snaps) immediately after it happens.
Keeping your stories real
Great stories are real and tangible and concrete, as opposed to vague and general and abstract. Let me give you an example of the difference between these two types of language.
The best political speech, at least one of the best political speeches of our lifetime, was John F Kennedy’s 1961, land a man on the moon speech. As part of that, he said these words. “I believe that this nation “should commit itself to achieving the goal, “before this decade is out,”of landing a man on the moon “and returning him safely to the earth.” That speech galvanized an entire nation around this space race with Russia.
In fact, if you practice being real and concrete in your language and your stories, you’ll be much more transparent to your organization and they will appreciate you much more for it.
How should you lead with stories?
Every great leader is a great storyteller. And now you’ve started your journey to becoming that better leader and better storyteller. And if you wanna take it to the next level,here are a few resources for you. First of all, there have been a number of books published on the topic of business storytelling. Read those books to gather more tips and tricks on storytelling.
Now, one of the questions you may have for yourself now is, “How do I know if I’m doing it right? “How do I know if I’m becoming “that good storyteller?” Well, two ways you’ll know. One is you’ll find yourself being a more effective leader. But the second way you’ll know is you will have developed a passion for storytelling.
In fact, poet Maya Angelou once observed, “That there is no agony “like bearing an untold story inside of you.” So in the future when a compelling story strikes you, instead of just enjoying it and letting it pass from your memory, you’ll have this uncontrollable urge to share it with somebody.
The agony will strike you. And you’ll know from that moment on that when you lead, you’ll be leading with great stories.
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