If you look at the world’s most successful and iconic entrepreneurs, you’ll notice that they have one key thing in common: they are amazing storytellers. Their ability to share stories with their employees, partners and customers helps to create an emotional connection with the product, company or service.
No matter what you’re selling - a new product, an idea for change or something truly groundbreaking - a story can help break down barriers and ensure you are able to get your message across. As an entrepreneur, storytelling is an essential business skill, and one that can make the difference between mediocre and outstanding corporate performance.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur running a micro business or building a big empire, stories are what sell.
The power of storytelling is rooted in our brains. From childhood we are trained to recognise patterns from alphabets to music to stories, which help break down our natural resistance. Our brain says, oh, wait, I recognise this and the information is more apt to stick. Additionally, stories create a sensory experience along with an emotional response, so it’s easy to see why stories are so powerful. Stories override logic in our brains.
Telling effective stories
Storytelling is nothing new in business, but the reality is that often, entrepreneurs choose to use the wrong types of stories. Making stories too long and complex, or failing to connect with your audience can quickly backfire. Here’s six ways to make sure your stories are effective:
1. Use concrete words to trigger emotion
You want to paint a picture so be specific. Instead of saying the cat, say the brown tabby cat. Or instead of that the kitchen smelled delicious, say it smelled like the scent of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Being concrete creates a sensory response that triggers more of the brain. The more of the brain you can engage, the more memorable your story will be.
2. Avoid the temptation to use epic stories
Stories can be short and to the point. Don’t think that you have to tell the type of epic stories that you see big name entrepreneurs sharing. They have earned the respect of their audience already, so err on the side of caution and add less facts so you don’t lose your reader, listener or audience. Even some of the world’s best examples of corporate storytellers go for a less is more approach.
3. Have a clear message
Don’t tell a story for the sake of telling a story. Inject stories when they make sense and they tie back toy your core message.
If you are talking about your company’s financial projections and you want to lighten things up sharing a funny story about your mother being a bargain shopper may be appropriate, however a long story about something your child did is likely not.
4. End on a positive note
If you look at popular stories, movies and books, there’s a common thread, the happy ending. Our brains are trained to expect a happy ending and if you are using storytelling as a tool, you want to ensure that you are leaving your audience with positive emotions. Everyone loves a happy ending. So when you are crafting your stories carefully consider how you can leave things on a positive note.
5. Develop your own style
Entrepreneurs typically all have their own flair, so be sure to embrace that in your storytelling. If you are lower key, use understatement and intrigue to your advantage. Conversely, if you are quirky and colourful, use stories that tie into your personality. Think about what you can do to make your stories uniquely you and to develop a signature style.
6. Know what response you desire from your audience
Your stories should always come with a plan and not just be thrown in for good measure. Look at your audience and what emotions you are trying to elicit. Are you trying to educate? Inspire? Get them fired up so they take action? Or are you simply trying to get them to remember a specific point? Your story should have a desired response from the audience and stories should be inextricably tied to that outcome.
By understanding the best types of stories and how to tell them effectively, you are then ready to start to inject them into your marketing. Stories can be used in literally in all facets of your marketing from social media to publicity to speaking engagements to help reinforce your message. When looking at your brand’s marketing strategy take time up front to map out where specific stories can be used to drive home specific messages to your audience.
Stories sell, and also what make us more human and likable. Using stories the right way can help transform your business and marketing in a powerful way.
How do you use stories to help your business? Let us know below...
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