.David Lewis is Co-Founder and CEO of Pinnacle Performance Company
Great leaders are great storytellers because they know stories have the power to persuade, delight and unite. Great stories clarify ideas and form bonds with audiences. People remember good stories and share them with others. Most importantly, anyone can develop the ability to tell a compelling story. Storytelling is not reserved for just leaders.
As we highlighted in our book, The Pin Drop Principle, anyone working in today’s business environment can benefit from using storytelling as a communication tool. And yet, business people rarely think of doing so. According to Lou Hoffman of the PR firm The Hoffman Agency, “There’s a fair amount of science supporting the theory that the human mind from an early age is wired for stories. It’s a more interesting and compelling way of communicating, which in turn increases the listening quotient of the audience and ultimately makes what you say more memorable. Somewhere along the line, people got the idea that business communication needed to be different—vanilla, stiff, jargon-filled, etc.—than [communications] in personal life. As a result, the vast majority of business communications is deadly dull.”
Business communication does not have to be dull and different—in fact, it should not be, if it is to be effective. If you want to learn how to communicate effectively, storytelling is a must have tool to add to your communication tool belt.
So what makes a good story? According to J, the author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, “Psychological studies show that we don’t get infected by a story unless we are emotionally transported—unless we lose ourselves in the story.”
“We can make a good start by learning to use story’s basic master formula. Stories—from great epic poems to office scuttlebutt—are almost uniformly about humans facing problems and trying to overcome them. Stories have a problem-solution structure. Stories are always about trouble. Stories aren’t often about people having good days. They are usually about people having bad days—the very worst days of their lives—and struggling to get through,” he adds.
Here are eight more tips for effective storytelling:
- Only tell stories you like telling. Chances are that if you like telling the story, we will like hearing it.
- Start strong. Good, effective stories lead off with a surprise, a mystery or a challenge. Take us on a journey.
- Use descriptive words. When listening to a good story we like sensory descriptions of how things looked, smelled, felt, sounded, etc.
- Generate emotion. Identify and utilize the appropriate intentions required so you make your audience members feel a specific way.
- Play with pace and pauses. By using pacing and silence, you can create drama and build the suspense of your story.
- Utilize the element of surprise. Withhold certain information until the very last moment that you need to reveal it.
- Stick the ending. End the story solidly and tie it up with a nice moral or message for the audience to take away.
- Decide on a theme. Clearly lay out the moral of the story or the learning lesson.
The ability to tell a good story is a crucial tool for anyone who wants to impact an audience or make a point in a compelling way. A good story will not only make your messages more memorable, it will also help you to clarify meaning and illustrate a concept or idea. And the best part about storytelling is it’s a skill most people can master with a little work.
To learn more about how to communicate effectively using storytelling, please contact us.
About the Author
David Lewis is Co-Founder and CEO of Pinnacle Performance Company, a global training firm that has revolutionized presentation and communication skills training. He is also co-inventor of The Pinnacle Method™, a unique and innovative learning system that meshes time-tested performance delivery techniques with contemporary business skills, and co-author of the book, The Pin Drop Principle, which provides step-by-step master class for anyone wishing to become a more confident and credible communicator.