Everyone loves a good story. Stories have helped people throughout history connect with others and express ideas. The term “storytelling” is bandied about quite a bit in corporate communications nowadays, and for good reason. Internal and external communicators are finding it an effective method to reach today’s audiences – customers and employees who want to relate to companies rather than perceive them as faceless, soul-less entities.
Business stories allow organizations communicate a purpose in their existence. They let communicators can effectively describe an objective, goal, a desired outcome, or show how their organization can change things for the better.
So with that understanding of storytelling, let’s talk a little about how to effectively approach this style of written and video communication.
Connect On a Personal Level
The most effective way to make a connection is with a personable story to which others can relate, whether your communication focuses on a leader, employee, or customer. You might talk about how the CEO started as an intern and worked his/her way up to the top; how an employee went above and beyond to ensure a customer received a needed prescription refill; or how a customer’s life was changed because of a product or service offered by a company.
The goal is to place the reader or viewer in the story and build empathy. When you connect with your audience on a personal level, you open them up to a new idea or opportunity. That’s why it’s important to describe the situation effectively and identify an issue with which your audience can relate. Set the stage for the reader or viewer and make it personal for them.
A big aspect of storytelling is playing on emotions – it’s what inspires employees and motivates customers. Think of a company’s mission statement, only in the form of a tale. Storytelling lets you go beyond the two- to three-sentence statement that captures the purpose of your organization. By giving examples of how your company has helped and improved an employee or the community, you inspire the audience to get behind that mission and take every opportunity to make it a reality.
When you write your story, have an action in mind – what do you want the audience to get out of it and what action do you want them to take? This will help shape the story you ultimately tell.
Burn It Into Their Memories
Remember the best story you ever heard? Yeah ya do. Know why? Because it was memorable! OK. That was kind of weak, but you get the idea.
After posted, the run-of-the-mill intranet article or website blog can disappear into the ether. When done effectively, storytelling can be more memorable and allow audiences to retain information by being drawn into the narrative.
Find stories that will make an impression on your audience and make them think about it later. Tug at the heart strings, raise awareness about something they might not have known before, or teach them something new. This kind of goes back to the first point – make it personal… something they won’t forget very soon.
Many famous entrepreneurs or fitness gurus have stories like these – how they started with nothing or were overweight, then took steps to improve their situations. People remember these stories as they try to achieve their own financial or health goals. They are great “If they can do it, I can do it,” reference points for the audience.
What’s been your experience in taking a storytelling approach to your communications? What’s worked best for you? Let us know in the Comment section below!
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Speaking of stories, here’s a good one: Once upon a time – now – you filled out the form to the right of the page and joined my email list. And you lived happily ever after. Compelling, no?