5 Tips for Business Storytellers
If you own a business, you have an obligation to tell good stories. As a business owner you, quite frequently, talk to an audience. Whether that's an audience of one or many, it's an audience.
On a daily basis you speak with customers, employees and prospects. Think of the last person you spoke to about work. What category did the conversation fall into?
- Were you in a training conversation?
- Were you in a selling conversation?
- Maybe it was a networking conversation?
Because of your position as a business owner, you regularly have the opportunity to have an audience. Therefore, it's your responsibility to be able to tell a compelling story.
And you want that, if you want people to do what you say... (which, let's face it) includes training, selling, networking and more!
Holding someone's attention is increasingly difficult today. [SQUIRREL] Like right now, you’re probably being pinged and dinged from every device around! STAY WITH ME...
But telling a story, in story form is a great way to hold that attention and be persuasive.
Storytelling for business is a powerful tool that can help you...
- engage others in your purpose,
- build loyalty to your business and
- drive sales.
Here are 5 tips to help you tell a business story that resonates...
1) "Who" is before "What": Know your audience
Most want to jump to “what should I say" when faced with a conversation about business. You hear tips on how to “craft your pitch” all the time but what about getting to know the person you are talking to? The first step in crafting a compelling business story is to understand your audience. Who are they? What are their interests, troubles and goals?
By understanding them more, you can tailor your story to them specifically. If your aim is millennials, you might want to focus on the social impact of your business. If you're speaking to busy professionals, you might want to highlight the time-saving benefits of your product or service.
2) K.I.S.S.: Keep it simple, silly!
Avoid going on tangents or into the weeds with needless details. Simplicity is key. Don't try to cram too much information into your story or use jargon that they might not understand. Instead, focus on a clear and concise message that is easy to understand. Use metaphors and analogies to make complex ideas more accessible. Someone told me they knew a trial attorney who used to practice her arguments in front of her third grader and knew that if they could understand, then everyone on the jury would too.
3) Wahhhhh! Make it emotional
As Jyoti Gupta writes in his book Business Storytelling: From Hype to Hack, "People don't hear what you say, they hear what you make them feel." There is way too much telling and directing in business because were are all in a hurry. But to really follow a direction, people need to feel the pain or problem enough to want to change. Whether it's joy, sadness, anger or surprise, emotions help to create a connection with your audience. Show the human side of your business, and demonstrate how your product or service can make a real difference in people's lives.
4) Build it: Real Stories Have Structure
In the simplest form, a good story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Your brain is literally build that way. Test this theory by thinking about a person who meanders this way and that when they talk. It can be frustrating!
Make sure your business story follows a similar structure. Grab their attention with something unexpected, yet relevant. Introduce the problem you're trying to solve. Explain how your product or service solves that problem, and provide evidence to back it up. Don't forget to wrap up your story with a clear call to action, whether it's to buy your product, sign up for your service, or join your cause.
5) It's ALIVE! Practice, revise, practice, revise
Storytelling is a skill that takes practice. Write your story down then share it with people. You'll find that a story is a living thing, that changes with each reiteration. Notice how the audience you are sharing it with helps shape the story. While the structure should remain, the details are modified with each rendition. Tell your story to friends and colleagues, and ask for their feedback. The more you practice, the more confident and effective you'll become.
Learning this influential skill is something that can help you not only in business, but in every aspect of your life. Knowing how to tell a compelling story about your business will set you apart from the competition as a likable leader and business owner.