We have always been surrounded by stories. As studies show, over half of human conversation comes in the form of stories and we, as humans, are more receptive to stories than we are to data or hard facts. That has to do with the fact that stories help us relate, empathize and offer our brains the time they need to process the information in a form that is easily digestible and more memorable. The interesting part is that storytelling relates to the business world as well.
By Romanita Oprea
Besides having been a buzzword for some time, used and overused in many marketing and advertising conversations, storytelling has also proven to be a powerful business tool and a skill that every business building a powerful and lasting brand should understand and use wisely. That’s because when done the right way, storytelling can do wonders for a business. And most importantly for a business environment, stories sell.
How can one bring storytelling into business meetings? According to Andrei Dunuta, founder & public speaking trainer at Speakings and SelfTrust Academy, there are many ways to do it. The first type of stories are related to the “why” of numbers.
“Any KPI has a reason why it’s important. Then, we are talking about stories with allegory: fables, stories of wise people, which are relevant for a certain situation. One needs research and it’s up only to them to find the right story. They must have the right effect,” said Dunuta.
Moreover, as the Speakings representative says, even the less pleasant stories that teach you a lesson can be a good source – one can go whichever way they want, depending on how they think they can strike gold.
“The only rule is being careful to choose the ones that no longer have an emotional charge. And last, but not least, your passions are an interesting source of stories – think about what can be put into a travelling or art experience. There are many possible variables,” added Dunuta.
“In a business presentation, just like in day-to-day life, we try to send a message and obtain in return a change of attitude, opinion or behaviour. So we use analogies, structures, characters, facts and even emotions to bring people into our story and connect in order to further develop our projects. Just like in life. A business plan without a good narrative behind it will most likely end up in the”might have been a great project” recycle bin. Facts state exactly this, pure data, no conclusion or emotion behind it. Adding a story, a relatable and easy to follow conclusion or encouragement will trigger some emotion and therefore your facts are more vivid and memorable,” said Anca Paun, winner of Speakings HR 5th Edition and Cluster Talent & OE Manager SCEA BAT.
The human approach
What about personal branding? In Anca Banita’s opinion, personal branding is about choosing the most relevant and inspiring stories about yourself to tell on the public scene.
“I always advise my clients to start from asking themselves: what is my ‘why’ for doing what I am doing? The why is always a story or more stories combined. I encourage them to find these stories and share them on their personal platforms or when appearing in the media, because these stories come from the heart and have the power to touch the hearts of others,” explained Anca Banita, coach & trainer.
Moreover, apart from the why story, one can bring different stories about their profession. Old and new stories about how you do business or what it really means for you to be a doctor/lawyer/coach, etc.
“You can also talk about your vision: we love to hear stories about dreams and about the way someone wants to contribute to making the world a better place. So, what are you dreaming to create in 5-10 years? Last but not least, tell stories to explain the world we live in from your expert point of view. I loved the example of a blog post from a leadership coach explaining how a singer managed to win a television contest by showing leadership skills. These stories have great educational potential,” added Banita.
The purpose of all these stories is to show our human side and bring our heart into the picture, to see how other can resonate with us so that, after this step, we decide whether we want to do business together. The coach or trainer would advise people to harness their passions, the most important revelations of the last years, the books they’ve read or other experiences that contributed to who they are today, all correlated with what they have to express in the business meeting.
Every year it looks like clients are getting closer and closer to appreciating and wanting this type of approach. They are also becoming more open because, many times, as Andrei Dunuta points out, there are some boring moments in meetings when participants are not really paying attention to each other. And that sometimes makes one wonder why they even met in the first place.
“Therefore, the manner in which one holds a presentation becomes important, in order to make people in the room hear the message. For example, I had one client with whom I worked for a board presentation and I helped her present numbers in a report using storytelling. I took out a lot of information from the slides, I added pictures, and the numbers were a personal experience from one corner to the other. After the board meeting she called me and was very happy about the feedback she had received, telling me that all her colleagues applauded and asked her how she came up with such a different approach,” recalls Dunuta.
In her turn, Banita sees that clients have been increasingly open to telling a personal story with authenticity and courage. And it does takes courage to show exactly who you are and to share your life in business contexts. One can be judged, even rejected.
“And sometimes, you wonder if it’s worth the risk. I would say that it depends on the values that are guiding your life. Is authenticity a key value to you? Is it courage? Or self-expression? If so, coming up with real stories will be an option you will take into account, together with everything that comes along with it. Any paradigm change will see some resistance,” added Banita.
Still, Anca Paun considers it to be a slow process. According to her, most companies are oriented towards a direct and very specific type of communication, while storytelling is associated with the more creative, looser, relaxed way of addressing things. E-mails and daily interactions are meant to be straightforward, as short and concentrated as possible, which is quite far from the storytelling concept of explaining things with a short story.
“Without naming it as such, selling ideas is a quality that is appreciated in most companies, regardless of the department or seniority level. But from this appreciation to building sustainable programs to develop this skill there is still a serious gap,” commented SCEA BAT’s representative.
It’s extremely obvious that today it’s becoming more and more important to go beyond the facts and tell a story and make things approachable, even on the business side. Our brain is built to listen to stories and through them make sense of the world we are living in.
“We love the stories because they have been helping us since we were children to explain the reality, to imagine it and to develop our imagination, therefore our brain is a story factory put on a continuous mode. We make up stories about anything that happens to us – from small things such as a gesture, someone’s look, a tone of voice to something more important. We are a meaning making machine, as I heard at a personal development class. Stories have a role of also bringing the heart into the equation because, many times, we are just in our mind, on autopilot and we don’t even realise it,” said Anca Banita.
And yet, how is good public speaking an instrument in discovering today’s leaders in the organisation you work with? According to SelfTrust Academy’s representative, tomorrow’s leaders need an exhibition space. They need contexts in which to be seen, where they can express and expose their ideas and perspectives, where they get the courage to show themselves. Through the Speakings concept that Dunuta brings to companies, him and his colleagues are doing internal public speaking contests in which anyone can take part, and many times the winners have been the newcomers or the ones that hadn’t stood out until then, but who later on became keynote speakers for the company or are moderating internal events.
There have also been people who after such an event were promoted or went on to take management positions in other companies.
“For a story to inspire, to provoke change, to drive results, it needs to speak to the audience’s heart, to have meaning and purpose, besides the cognitive, rational side of facts. Make your stories memorable, not just interesting, build them for what the audience needs, as closest to their level of understanding and challenge them just a bit to get the result you desire. And ideally, if situation allows it, add some humour as well,” concluded Anca Paun.
Чтобы в Вулкан 24 казино играть на видеослотах с выводом денег, нужно не забывать о прибыльных стратегиях и надеяться на свое чутье. Даже зная параметры вероятности, коэффициенты или показатели волатильности невозможно получить стопроцентный результат. Только Удача помогает выигрывать.