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Business Storytelling: Making Connections that Drive Action

Posted by Corey Hagler on 6/29/15 9:42 AM
Corey Hagler

Most of us have a favorite story that we’ve carried with us long past our first encounter with it. How that first encounter took place – by book, movie, or around a campfire – is less important than the connection we had with something rare and special. It conveyed a truth to us in a new way or simplified something that was previously complex or unknowable. It had realness that touched something in our life. Stories like that affect the way we think, how we fell, and how we act. They change us.

The Power of Using Storytelling in Business

So what does storytelling have to do with business? At the end of the day, business is about people, and our success is dependent on our ability to convince people to change something or take some action we have recommended. To do this well we need to find a way to create a distinct connection between often abstract ideas and the reality in which our audience resides.

The objective of business storytelling is to simplify the data to convey what is important and not merely interesting, and translate the important data into meaningful insights that allow the audience to connect personally to facilitate change or action.

Key Elements in Business Storytelling

Business storytelling requires a scenario that is centered on the audience, analogies that connect the data to the context of the event, and structure with circumstances similar to the business situation. The story should serve as a catalyst for teaching and facilitating action. The primary purpose of the approach chosen is to compel someone to change:

  • The way they think
  • The way they feel
  • The way they act

Regardless of which story structure is chosen, each story must contain the following key elements:

  • Simplicity: presents complex information in a way that is easy to follow and understand
  • Connection: the story is constructed to relate personally with the audience
  • Truthfulness: the information is delivered with honesty and integrity
  • Realness: the information must relate to the context or experience of the audience
  • Validity: this information is delivered in a way that is applicable to various audiences

Leveraging the Familiar to Tell the Story

Familiar story structures can also be used in business situations to help communicate meaning. A familiar archetype unifies the report by giving it a narrative direction (beginning, middle, end, characters, setting, context) that helps your audience see the direction of your story, allowing them to connect sooner. They will intuitively understand the journey they are on and recognize the end you are leading them.

For example, when working with a client who has identified a problem and formulated their desired outcome, yet has no idea how to achieve this goal, the “Hero’s Quest” might be an appropriate story model to use in a presentation. Or, if a company is going through a change and is looking for advice on how to implement new strategies, the “Initiation” structure might most effectively communicate the necessary information.

Why Use Storytelling in Business?

Storytelling provides a method for presenting information in a coherent, unified manner. Characters and actions are replaced with data and key insights, providing listeners with an opportunity to think about expected outcomes based on their understanding of how stories progress. This interactive partnership between audience and presenter captures the approach that TrendSource offers: the clear delivery of meaningful insights in a way that helps our clients take action that drives business results.New Call-to-action

Topics: Market Research, Featured

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