Storytelling is an advanced communication tool that can build rapport, increase retention and powerfully persuade. Capturing, structuring and delivering relevant stories is an invaluable skill in business.
1) Build Rapport – Experiences are unique; however, emotions are universal. Telling a short, interesting personal story allows the listener to tap into the same emotion as the teller, creating a memorable rapport. The effectiveness depends upon expressing the relevant emotion in the story.
2) Increase Retention – How often have you been in a networking situation and found it difficult to remember someone’s name and business 30 seconds after she or he said it? Try telling a short story about your business, tapping into precisely how what you do benefits humanity. Focusing on how you benefit humanity will resonate with your listener, whom we assume is a human.
3) Persuade – Storytelling answers the question, “Why?” Telling a relatable and relevant story that answers what will happen if I do or don’t do something can be very persuasive. The listener can imagine him/herself in real-time and feel the consequences of the choice at hand when the story is told well.
There are countless ways to use storytelling as a communication tool in business. You may have noticed that relevance is the thread that runs through all three. Use storytelling to demonstrate the relevance to your listener, if you can’t do that, you should not be talking. Relationship building, making information stick, and convincing others are three of the most common ways to use this skill.
Commentary by Laurie Schloff
“When Obama’s telempromter screen shattered abruptly at a White House press briefing last week, the audience held its collective breath.
Obama’s communication strength lies in his ability to deliver a prepared, pre-written speech, not to ad lib, “wing it” or be impromptu. Communication coaches observe that this difference in skill depending on context is not unusual at all. In fact, John McCain (remember him?) was way more smooth when responding to on-the-spot questions than
reading off a teleprompter.
Luckily for Obama, there was an additional teleprompter screen at his briefing and he continued on with his usual grace.”
Question: What do you like or not like about the way Obama speaks?
Next Obama Talk: What’s he doing with his hands?