The Act Of Storytelling As A Communication Tool
The way you position your company, communicate to various audiences and brand your organization fall into the category of storytelling. Storytelling is more than slick marketing. Certainly ads can tell great stories, but you should use storytelling in a more profound way. Think of it as crafting the overall narrative of your organization. It’s articulating what you stand for. It’s capturing how you connect your team, customers, suppliers and the media to your larger mission.
Nick Morgan is a master storyteller who has written memorable and inspiring speeches for elected officials, business executives and dignitaries. He categorizes stories into five types. If your storytelling is to leave a mark, you need to reinvent your approach. Match your message up to these classic structures, and your audience will be persuaded. Of course, you want to establish a problem and solution, but you also want to drive your audience to act, using the story as the mechanism to drive this.
• Quests. These begin with ordinary people in an ordinary situation. Then a problem arises or an event occurs that forces the hero to leave home or depart from the status quo, to seek some goal or right some terrible wrong, reestablishing the social order. It’s not logical, but we believe it. That’s why it’s powerful.
• A strange land. The heroes suddenly find themselves in a new landscape, one with unknown terrain, language or rules. Along comes a leader (that’s you) to show us the way, offering a new vision, a new set of rules, or a new way of coping that enables us to survive and eventually thrive in this new landscape. We crave mastery, not bewilderment, and that’s the journey our leader takes us on.
• Love stories. Two people meet, fall in love, fall out of love, learn a little more about each other, decide to stick together, and live happily ever after. Their true character is revealed in the way the two fall out of love and then find each other again — and that’s always symptomatic of what’s wrong with society today. If you’re a leader with an idea about how people need to get along better, love stories are for you.
• Rags-to-riches stories. These help us believe that ordinary people still have a chance to succeed in a society that seems stacked against us. They’re about average people who, with a little luck and hard work, manage to succeed. They’re good stories for people to tell who are trying to promote economic justice.
• Revenge stories. There is evil in this world, and revenge stories reassert the order that society all too often fails to give us. A good villain and justice served are powerful ways for leaders to persuade their followers that they have the right idea about life.
By applying any of these basic patterns, you can use storytelling effectively in functional communication (both internal and external) and marketing and brand messaging. Great storytelling can be the difference maker in winning the client, securing regulatory approval, or getting that big promotion.
Reinvent Your Communication
Even if you’re not a specialist in marketing and communication,there is an easy approach you can follow to reinvent your communication efforts. If you follow these six high-impact principles, you’ll be well on your way to driving positive change:
1. Keep it simple. Make your communications dead-simple for anyone who reads it. Ditch the jargon.
2. Make it clear. Expunge vagueness, ambiguity and imprecision, leaving behind a crystal-clear and easy-to-follow communication.
3. Speak to your audience, not yourself. Speak in a language that your audience understands, and realize that they don’t have the same context and point of references that you do.
4. Keep it brief. The lower your word count, the better your message will be understood and retained.
5. Make it memorable. People will remember stories and feelings far more than details and figures. Engage your audience with compelling and unique language, and make sure you’re saying something with enough creativity that people can’t forget it.
6. Activate with action. Start with the end goal in mind, and make sure your communications all lead to the desired outcome. Lead your audience down a deliberate path with a specific action in mind, and make sure that next step is completely apparent