"Tell me a story." We say this practically as soon as we can speak.
Storytelling has been with us since the first folks could sit around a fire and tell them. And we’re still as intrigued with them today as we were then. A great story will move us, entertain us, and open our minds to new ideas.
Movies are an easy way to demonstrate the power of storytelling.
• Schindler’s List not only told a new side of the Holocaust, it has become a tool for education.
• In the documentary Super Size Me, Matt Spurlock eats only McDonalds food for a month. He not only opened our eyes to the health risks, his story changed the fast food industry.
Storytelling can be just as powerful for your business.
• Stories create trust. Instead of telling people facts and figures, stories allow people to look inside a company and relate.
• Stories move the heart. We want to connect and stories "stimulate our feelings, they can also ignite action, creativity, collaboration and instant rapport," says Denise Corcoran, CEO, The Empowered Business.
• Stories shift our perspective. A well-told story will reshape shape our views.
Storytelling isn't difficult. In fact, if you’ve told a joke, you've told a story.
Communication expert John Jenson in his video Tell me a Story help make it easier by breaking storytelling down into four steps.
• Have a Point. Know what you want people to think feel and do differently after your story.
• Choose the Right Story to Support Your Point. Select the style of story (humorous, inspirational, instructive) that will most effectively fit with the point you’re making.
• Craft Your Story and make it Compelling. Set the scene, keep from adding things that are unessential, use humor or emotion, be humble, and effectively tie the story to your main point.
• Deliver It. Speak "low and slow", don’t memorize every word, use good pacing and timing, maintain confident and relaxed body language, and practice!
Storytelling takes practice, but it’s worth it. Stories, like no other tool, can connect your company to your audience, intellectually and emotionally. Because, let’s face it, we all want someone to "tell us a story".
Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor--with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.