Story telling

In my post-BBC incarnation as a public speaker/conference moderator/speaking coach I’m constantly drawing on a journalist’s tool of the trade – story telling. So much so that I found myself running a communications workshop  for a major European finance company in which story telling turned out to be the main attraction.

After helping  the CEO  polish up a speech, peppered with anecdotes, I was approached by two different teams wanting to flex their story telling skills too. Why? Well they’d seen how their CEO was using stories – rather than grandiose policy pronouncements – to get across complex business themes. And they wanted to have a go too. The results were surprising and immediate.

Even the skeptics (and there were a couple of obvious skeptics) quickly got the hang of it – and found powerful, unexpected examples from their own lives – which worked equally well in a business context.  The anecdotes featured confused Americans holidaying in France, an Indian in London whose bank account was hacked, the sensitive decision to set up a joint bank account after marriage… and many other intriguing tales. What they had in common was how a personal story set up and segued into a more complicated (sometimes off-putting) business message, in such a way that the main message became less ‘corporate’ and more memorable.

For the workshops’ participants the surprise was how easy it was – how animated and relaxed they felt when telling stories instead of  hammering out jargon-laden pronouncements. And the feedback from the group reinforced that  –  everyone could see how their colleagues came alive when bringing something of themselves into their corporate communications. The power of stories, we’ve been telling them since the start of time.

 

21
Aug