Master storyteller and author Gabrielle Dolan addressed a sold-out crowd of communications professionals at an IABC NSW event recently, sharing her insights on developing business stories that stick and emphasising the importance of authenticity at the highly entertaining session.
“Fifteen years ago, people would laugh at me when I talked about storytelling. Now it’s cool and seen as a critical skill,” she explained.
Most of us fall into the “reporter” storytelling style, relating the facts and steering clear of personal stories in a business context. However, Gabrielle said that to become a more engaging “inspirer” storyteller meant sharing your own experience and importantly, linking it back to a business context – all in 1-2 minutes.
“It’s an absolute skill. Don’t set up your leaders for failure by not getting them trained,” she warned. “Use storytelling strategically and be clear on why you are sharing a story. It should be to inspire action, for your audience to feel or think something.”
So what are the elements of a good story? A beginning, middle and end, it needs to be relatable, congruent, appropriate and authentic. On that, it doesn’t necessarily need to be your own story, but it needs to be acknowledged if it is someone else’s.
- The brain processes emotion faster than logic, hence the power of business storytelling for leaders in communicating, particularly change and values.
- Humans are hard-wired to listen to stories, which are more memorable, so use a business story for the one key point you want remembered.
- Great business stories should only last 1-2 minutes and end with a link to a business objective.
- Leaders need training to tell compelling stories – it’s a new skill.
- Graphs, data and logic have their place, but emotional connection and credibility are bigger influencers on behaviour.
“Stories for Work: The Essential Guide to Business Storytelling” by Gabrielle Dolan.