Storytelling has become an overused business buzzword, but a good story motivates us to feel, and inspires us to act. It can help us connect to our audience whether we’re meeting a small team of co-workers, leading change across a global organization, or connecting with customers we’ve never met. Storytelling liberates innovation by generating the energy needed to change. After all, storytelling is the oldest pastime us human beings have.
“Stories are the currency of human contact.” – Robert McKee
Whether your organization is going through a business transformation or you’re trying to inspire motivation in the workplace, storytelling provides the platform to do this in a meaningful way that resonates…But what is it that makes a story compelling?
Three tips to help tell a captivating story:
1. Make it simple.
“Here’s an idea – when you tell a story, have a point!”
– Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Bestselling author Mitch Albom discusses this hilarious and true quote in a conversation with Maril MacDonald on Let Go & Lead, our online community dedicated to leadership in the 21st century. In this short video, “On Simplicity”, Albom’s simple point – everything is not a story. Just because something happened to you doesn’t mean it needs to be told. Ask yourself,is this story worth telling? If there is something good in it, if you learned something, if you believe others can get something from it too, then it’s a good story to tell. Before telling a story, ask, “What’s in it for my audience?” because ideally, people will be thinking about how they relate to your story and what they can get out of it. When you believe you have a good story, make it simple, universally understood, and get to the point.
2. Get them hooked.
Get your audience hooked from the start so you can reel them in and inspire them to act. A good hook is an opening line or statement that either:
- Provides a sense of urgency
- Offers a reason to care
- Immediately triggers curiosity about:
- Whose story it is
- What’s happening here
- What’s at stake
At the end, make sure to close with a clear and simple call to action. Tell them exactly what it is you’d like them to do. Share? Read? Donate? People are more likely to take action if you make it easy.
3. Use positive, action-oriented messages.
Stories by nature are emotional. High arousal and positive emotions elicit the greatest desire to share (see research by Contagiousauthor, Jonah Berger). Tell a story that people will want to share by getting them excited, amused, or awestruck.
Most importantly, make your story authentic. Chances are, if something inspired you, it will likely inspire others too. With a good hook, action-oriented, reliable messages, authenticity and simplicity, you will inspire your audience to take action which can lead to rewarding change.
Recently, we helped our clientITT equip their leaders to be strategic storytellers and build their brand from the inside out. The result? A 50% increase in leaders understanding of how to deliver their business strategy to both internal and external stakeholders.
Is your organization using stories to inspire and motivate your workforce?