Storytelling as a communication tool is finally receiving the recognition it deserves. More leaders and professionals now understand storytelling is an important part of their role.
That’s the good news.
However, most people still don’t realize how many storytelling opportunities are right there in front of them on a daily basis. Most people aren’t maximizing nearly enough of their storytelling opportunities.
9 Storytelling Opportunities to Maximize Now
The average leader and team member receive 161 emails on a daily basis.
Yeah, I know that makes most of you shudder. Me too.
What if we committed to interjecting storytelling in just a third of our email responses? Wouldn’t that help us connect with employees? Engage customers and prospects more?
Of course, it would. We buy on emotion and stories help convey emotion. We crave connection and storytelling helps us relate to and connect with others.
Make an analogy that ties back to your core values in an email response. Use an anecdote to make a point about a unique differentiator that your company has over the competition. Bring your personality into some responses by adding a brief story.
I’m not suggesting you write a chapter in an email. You can make a big impact with a short, brief story. Try it. Start off doing it in 1 out of 10 email responses. You’ll quickly see that you want and need to do it in more.
Meetings (Zoom and Other)
Leaders and individual contributors tend to have three to four meetings per day. The actual statistic from a Harvard Business Review study is 3.5 meetings per day.
Why not leverage the power of storytelling in each of those meetings?
Ask meeting attendees to tell a brief story in 2 minutes or less. You pick the subject. Maybe the first meeting it’s customer success stories. If 5 people are in the meeting, each person will hear stories they haven’t heard before. In ten minutes, the group learns and is engaged more. The next meeting could start with each person telling a story about a customer challenge. Again, everyone learns and momentum grows because the stories get told again and again outside of the meeting.
Texting has become an important communication channel in business and continues to grow each day, with the average number of texts at 33 per day. Interject a brief anecdote during a text string to convey what you see as the major takeaway of the conversation.
During my workshops, I’ll often hear from a leader who asks how they can tell a story in a text. If you’ve built your key storytelling pillars around your core values, your competitive advantages, those stories are told again and again. This enables you to refer to the story with a sentence or headline that triggers the memory of the recipient of your text, email, or whatever channel you are using at the time.
Yes, that smartphone can still be used as a phone. I know. Some of you are skeptical your phone might work as a phone. Leaders average six phone calls per day. You can incorporate storytelling into these calls.
When you leave a voicemail, your smartphone transcribes your message which gives your target both audio and voice inflection when they listen to the voicemail.
Inflection matters. It conveys emotion and emphasizes the key elements of your story, the major takeaways. It’s actually smart to use the smartphone as a phone.
Are you writing and posting to the company blog? If not, take the time to put your story out on the company blog. It personalizes your message and makes you more relatable. Your customers, prospects and team members will know your passion, your mindset, what drives you. This helps build trust and creates connections.
Each storytelling channel that you use adds to your messaging momentum. Repetition of your core beliefs and competitive advantages via anecdotes and analogies brings credibility to your leadership and vision.
Plus the company blog can be a hub in your storytelling efforts because the link can be shared in emails and through social media channels, increasing the exposure of that message to each key target audience.
LinkedIn is a great storytelling vehicle for leaders and individual contributors.
Is your LinkedIn profile robust?
Are you posting, liking, and sharing relevant stories?
Are you incorporating your company’s success stories into your LinkedIn presence?
LinkedIn provides a great opportunity for leaders to tell their stories, build relationships, and increase awareness of the company and what makes it unique.
Instead of reading a long slide in a deck, which you don’t like when you’re in the audience, use stories around an image or a phrase to convey the strategy. Incorporate anecdotes and analogies into team meetings and external business development presentations.
People buy on emotion. You’re selling your vision, your strategies both internally and externally and people buy on emotion. Make it memorable by telling stories.
Pre-COVID 19, we averaged 27 in-person encounters per day walking around the office, going to and from meetings, running into people at events, etc.
How many of those in-person storytelling opportunities were you leveraging?
How often were you prepared to use an anecdote to make a key point tied to your company’s core values?
How often did you make an analogy to emphasize one of your company’s competitive advantages?
Are you tying stories back to your strategic plan?
Think differently about these in-person encounters from now on and leverage the power of storytelling.
You also need to focus on Business to Employee Storytelling because it helps with the 3 R’s of Company Growth:
Results— productivity increases when storytelling increases because it improves internal communication.
Retention–You want to keep your peak performing employees. They want to understand the why, the big picture. Stories convey the why.
Recruitment–When potential employees are choosing where to work, they can easily compare the concrete numbers around compensation and benefits. Your storytelling is what can set you apart because you explain the company culture and what makes you different via anecdotes and analogies.
You can leverage the power of storytelling more every day.
You need to commit to doing it, starting right now. Build your own Storytelling Opportunity Inventory to maximize each of the nine areas. Create your stories with anecdotes and analogies. Tell them again and again to each of your key target audiences.