Why would you even care about Corporate Storytelling? Why should you bother to orate a story during your business presentations? You have solid numbers and recommendations to convince any prospect, why would they care about a story anyway? If you are familiar with such remarks, this article will illuminate the underlying power of storytelling and how you can craft the perfect stories for your marketing initiatives. But first, let me tell you a story…
This article is inspired by Paul Smith, author of “Lead With a Story: A guide to crafting business narratives that captivate, convince and inspire“.
Don’t Mess Up Your Holidays
First day at school, I was 13 years old and I still remember that very first day.
I specifically remember a story the teacher told us. When he entered the classroom, we were all speaking too loudly, making excessive noise, sharing our holiday stories, making new friends, cajoling and cavorting. To grab our attention, he had to do come up with something wondrous. You want to know what he did?
He told us this. As soon as he started speaking in a charismatic low voice, the classroom stopped talking instantly and started listening avidly.
“ I remember my first day of school when I was your age. My parents sent me to boarding school. I wasn’t really into school. During classes, I liked to joke with my friends and procrastination was the name of the game.
I waited patiently to have fun with my friend during the holidays, playing soccer and building wood houses. But when my parents observed my grade at the end of the year, they grounded me for 2 months to work on every single course I failed: French, science, mathematics, geography etc….
I told myself, “never again, from now on my holidays are sacred. I won’t mess with them”. So, I duly started listening carefully during class to gain time. My goal was to get as much done as possible at school so I could enjoy my free time to the fullest.
So now it is your turn. Don’t mess with your holidays. Do what you must do to protect and foster them. Do as much as possible during class time so you won’t have to study any more at home.
I tell you this because I want you to beat procrastination because I know all of you value your holidays. This will help you through your life. When you’ll be working for example. Once again, your holidays are sacred, don’t mess with them. “
“ Don’t mess up your holidays “. A simple yet very effective story with which he prepared all of us for the next 6 years of school, university and more. A blissful remedy against procrastination. Helping us beat idleness, he paved the way for us to cultivate a healthy efficiency. Work smarter, not harder and enjoy your holidays.
So why am I telling you this story? One reason, don’t lose time with traditional marketing, start using brand storytelling for all your communication efforts. Be it a PowerPoint presentation, sales activity, social media strategy, personal branding, etc…
For every need, there’s a story. Learn why and how you can construct an engaging narrative to help attract and convert customers today.
Who should read this article?
Reading this might change your business, or even your life forever.
It’s predominantly meant for marketers who are interested into gaining new business leads, improving sales conversions and communicating a clear vision of their value proposition.
But it also addresses anybody who wants to grab attention and instill an idea into people’s minds to generate profitable actions or just actions.
You have to make a presentation? You’re into sales? You’re a marketer and you’re searching for a storytelling recipe?
Even small businesses can benefit from corporate storytelling and start to amaze their audience, so listen up! All of you are in the right place.
What is corporate storytelling?
It’s all about connecting your audience with your brand.
The thing is, you probably already know what it is. You’re telling a story right now but you’re not doing it consciously.
Go and browse your own website and guess what story it tells to people. The picture, the colors, the sentences…
Brands always have values, a conventional message they wish to share.
A story is the most powerful form of media content on earth. If you want your message to get attention and get delivered, a story can most definitely help to convince your audience.
It doesn’t matter if we’re telling these stories intentionally or not. To be successful, grasp control of your story and shape it the way you want it.
8 reasons explaining why is storytelling efficient?
From dank caves to towering pyramids, the miracles of antiquity to our modern world, stories have always been there, connecting people, creating meaning lasting thousands of years.
Before printing, novels and newspapers did not exist. Human beings were the medium and talking was the most natural way of communicating, sharing information between tribes.
We are narrative creatures, it’s in our blood, our flesh… Stories are essential to our lives.
Brands, market leaders such as Coca Cola recognized the advantages early on and understood what stories could do for them.
So why stories?
Everybody loves stories.
This doesn’t mean you can apply the same story to any product or service. You’ll still need to focus on the idea you want to communicate and the actions or behavior you want to invoke.
But it’s true anywhere on earth, disregarding age, race or gender, provided you share the same language, any human on this planet listens to stories.
We are animals driven by stories. Stories generate positive emotions and allow brands to generate greater influence on the consuming public.
Stories Grab you audience’s attention
The next time you do a presentation, try to start with this:
“ If it’s okay, I would like to start with a story “.
Suddenly every one in the room will put down his/her pen, drop down his/her mobile phone, forget about his/her urgent what’s app messages… and start to pay unhindered attention. Intrigued by what it is they have to say.
Stories are very contagious
Because we’re wired to remember stories, we’re programmed to share stories that can be helpful to others or that cater for our pride.
Check out our last article entitled “ KONTAGIOUS / How can you use Word of Mouth Marketing to stand out?” for more interesting information on this specific topic.
Stories are easy to remember
It has been proved numerous times that learning facts through a well-told story makes it easier to remember with impressive accuracy.
See, even me, I can still remember this story from almost 20 years ago and it’s fresh and sound inside my head.
Stories beat traditional marketing & advertising
Stories inspire people.
Your marketing department isn’t a sweatshop.
People are fed up with traditional advertising. They’re bombarded too often with constructs that have non added value whatsoever.
Facebook and Linkedin having evolved to fully fledged advertising tools, seduce marketers and corporate leaders into repeating the same traditional mistakes.
People want experiences that inspire them, not to be ostentatiously forced into buying a product.
This also applies to PowerPoint presentations.
Have you ever heard someone saying “Oh wow that was a breathtaking slide”. Well maybe. But two or three weeks later? Or one year later?
Do me a favor. Next time you must make a presentation, add an inspiring story. Don’t make presentations merely for the sake of making one.
Stories appeal to all types of learners
Storytelling appeals to Visual Learners as well as Auditory and Kinesthetic learners.
Because it has a visual component (it triggers images in your head), an audio component (one has to hear the story first) and it also triggers feelings, it’s a whole immersive experience.
Stories put listeners in learning mode
Listening to stories puts people back into their children shoes.
It’s like a time machine.
It activates an emotional state of curiosity present when you were a child. A state of mind we tend to lose when we become adults.
Once we’re in this so-called childlike state, we become more receptive to ideas and keen on finding out all the relevant information. What’s in it for you?
Stories respect your freedom
You’re not here to tell people what to do.
You have a story to share and people are free to do whatever they want.
During your story, people suspend their judgement and are everything but prejudice.
It’s about telling people what needs to be done and why, instead of telling them “Do this! “ which will be (understandably) filtered out.
A storytelling structure : CAR = STORY
Now that you’re craving to learn how to craft a story for your business.
Where to start?
Well, you’ve already started. You don’t really need to know how to tell a story.
Everybody is born with that talent.
If you ask a child how many parts a story is made of, he will tell you: a beginning, a middle and an end.
If you ask a Hollywood script writer, he will tell you six parts: the setup, catalyst, first turning point, climax, final confrontation and resolution.
The child is right but Paul Smith presents it another way, C.A.R, which stands for:
- Context: Situation, Treasure, Obstacle
- Resolution: Right Lesson and whY
Watch out these 3 steps!
Context: Situation, Treasure, Obstacle
The most important part.
The most common structural error in storytelling consists of putting the action first.
In the context, you provide the background, you instigate the plot and you grab your audience’s attention.
The context must be able to answer these 4 questions:
Where and When does your story take place? Is it going to be a fairy-tale or a true story? Fact or fiction? A “ Once upon a time “ or a “ When I was a kid, I met a snake charmer In Australia”.
Defining this is quintessential as you can potentially lose your credibility or the loyalty of your desired audience. If you choose to tell fiction, tell your readers straight away.
Never tell lies, simply exaggerate the truth.
We call this the Situation step.
Who is your hero? You should find someone your audience can identify with. Play the familiarity card. It works every time.
What does the character look for? What is the main goal, what is the so-called Treasure? What is your hero trying to achieve? Is he trying to save the world? To solve peoples’ problems?
In the story above, my teacher wanted to grab our attention and make sure we beat procrastination and focus on daily activities that make a difference.
Who or what is getting in the way? The villain in your story. Imagine a Superhero movie without a bad guy? People wouldn’t care. It could however be anything that blocks your hero from achieving his/her goal.
That’s the Obstacle.
What’s happening? How does your hero manage to beat the villain, beating its obstacle?
When you construct your story, try to make it a bit hard for your hero.
To build a compelling business narrative, put yourself in the shoes of a Hollywood scriptwriter and try to make your plot a bit more complex.
Result: Right Lesson and whY
This is where you teach your audience the right lesson and you link the end of the story to your why.
What have you taught them?
In my story, our teacher wanted us to listen carefully in class, not MESS around, and succeed well in our personal lives.
Our work, our university duties can’t and shouldn’t block us from enjoying our holidays.
Finally, what was the purpose of your story? What do you want your audience to do?
In my story, our teacher wanted us to listen carefully in class, not messing around, and succeed well in our personal lives.
Last Pieces of Advice
- Be consistent when you start telling your story. It’s your DNA. It should appear in every piece of content you’re sharing. Without doing so it might turn out to be counterproductive.
- Buy a notebook you will use to store story ideas for later. Write down when you encounter inspiring and empowering stories, these will help you later on.
List of Books on the topic
- Paul Smith, ” Lean With a Story – A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince and Inspire “
- Seth Godin, ” All Marketers Tell Stories “
- David M. Armstrong, ” Managing by Storying Around “
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