Once upon a time… the importance of storytelling in communication
With so much information coming at us through so many channels, how can we as communication professionals direct an audience’s focus? Well, let us tell you a story…
It has long been understood that the best way to engage someone – anyone in fact – is through a story. As human beings our brains are hard-wired for them, from epic poems, to pop songs, bedtime stories to office gossip, stories are how me make sense of our lives. We listen and understand best when we hear a story.
We all know good storytellers. Those people who can hold a room, weave a tale, deliver a punchline – so how can we translate that seemingly intangible talent into the business space?
Put simply, telling a story means framing information in a way which is comprehensible, has meaning and leaves a lasting impression. From sales reps telling the story of a product to engage customers, to the chief exec relaying the journey of their business to attract investors or new employees, storytelling is a vital tool to harness.
You don’t need a complex narrative with plot twists and turns, but a coherent thread which pins it all together – a beginning, middle and end. And it needn’t encompass everything about your business; keep it to what matters most.
Look at the most popular TED talks for example. These speakers are not trying to regurgitate as many facts as possible because they know that, however compelling, information alone won’t sway minds – but a story will. They take the audience on a journey, and by saying less, communicate much more.
You don’t have to be delivering a speech or crafting an advert to tell a story. From a regular office meeting, to a one-to-one conversation, to an email, storytelling can help you deliver a message clearly. It can be as simple as sharing a problem, telling how you came up with a solution and explaining the difference that solution is making.
A compelling or timeless story is a powerful thing – think of a David and Goliath style tale of a small business taking on the corporate big boys, or a home-grown company whose founder overcame personal adversity to achieve their dreams. A story will work for you, transmitting awareness of your brand and business, conveying who you are and what you stand for far and wide.
Whether using them internally to communicate with employees, or externally to reach customers, stories which engage the emotions are by far the most powerful. You might not always remember a fact or a figure, or even the words used to describe something – but you will recall what it made you feel. So, go ahead and tug on the heartstrings, or make someone laugh.
Here at UKSV we make it our business to get to know our clients inside and out. By getting to the emotional heart of their stories, we can share them in the most compelling and impactful ways. We like to think we are the creative communications agency equivalent of that captivating raconteur at a party – and we always know how to deliver a punchline!