Storytelling in organizations still is undervalued and underutilized, while it is extremely powerful.
Here’s why. About the power of storytelling and the use of storytelling as a business tool.
People think more narrative than through arguments or paradigms and are more affected by stories than by logic. Emotions are essential for any ‘rational’ decision and emotions are extracted from frames (context) and stories. A story is a direct connection to someone’s heart. Thereby, stories are shared and distributed. And remembered.
The use of storytelling in business is powerful in many ways. A story can help to make the new future more clear – to blur the line between reality and fiction. Stories provide a reference point and give meaning to a particular situation. Stories can connect cause and effect – something our minds ‘normal’ not easily do. Good stories connect listeners and encourage shared experience (“do you remember when we …”). Storytelling can work vigorously to make things more tangible. And complex stuff can be made accessible to non-specialists in a narrative style. Stories help to hold attention and to generate curiosity for the unknown, to move people, overcoming resistance…And more.
Fact is: it is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains. A lot of scientific research to prove that (check out the infographic for more on the science of storytelling and how it affects the brain).
The use of patterns and metaphors
There’s a lot to say about storytelling. At the end of this blog, we’ve made a collection for you. For now, we want to point out two things: the structure of a story and the use of metaphors.
The hero’s journey is a basic pattern that is found in narratives. On the right, you see a picture of Kathy Sierra’s’ Modified Hero’s Journey. You will probably recognize this. Many movies and books are built on this: life is good, then something happens, ending in complete malaise (things really suck), but then there is the hero/solution and everyone lives happily ever after.
If you apply this in business storytelling, think about starting with confrontation. This is about awareness. And sensibility. As we wrote in our blog about storySelling: touching people directly, they need to feel it themselves. We first have to feel something is not right. We become aware that there is something lacking, by seeing or feeling some kind of problem. When this feeling is strong, we feel the sense of urgency and are prepared to move to the next step: acceptance – the willingness to do something about it. Then, we’re open for things and tools that help us. And if it’s working for us, we return to a new normal.
Metaphors could be very powerful. The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one thing in terms of the other. Metaphors provide a framework to large groups of people so that everyone understands the context. You could see a metaphor as a pair of glasses, making the world appear in a certain way. Watch this TED talk ‘Metaphorically speaking‘ by James Geary, where he talks about how a metaphor can subtly influence the decisions we make. Or check out this blog by Brainpickings about the magic of metaphors.
Storytelling as a tool
Storytelling has always been the first communicational strategies humans used to pass on knowledge, traditions and customs. Cultures and civilizations have been built through stories. Stories are always part of our daily lives. And also in businesses; think about how stories are shared (often unconsciously and in a informal way) and distributed.
Storytelling in organizations still is undervalued and underutilized, while it is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains. It could be one of your most powerful business tools.
As Harrison Monarth says in the irresistible power of storytelling as a strategic business tool: “Storytelling may seem like an old-fashioned tool, today — and it is. That’s exactly what makes it so powerful. Life happens in the narratives we tell one another. A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”
Want to know more?
If you want to better understand the secrets of the art of storytelling, we recommend this collection of 6 TED talks. And/or check out our Flipboard Magazine at the end of this post.
If you’re trying to influence, inspire or convince others to believe in your message, this free ebook might help you. If you want to change the world, change your story
Here’s a free online course that will help you become a master storyteller!
Check out our Flipboard Magazine on StoryTelling: how to tell a compelling story that touches, will be remembered and initiate action.
In Plan B, we have the role of The Storyteller. The Storyteller monitors common understanding by verifying the message, making things explicit and translated into simple and clear (visual) messages. Also knows how to tell the story in a way that affects people and boosts their enthusiasm. Uses the most appropriate tools, in line with the purpose and audience. And is not afraid to use alternative tools, such as storytelling and the use of images, movies and metaphors.
Image/infographic credits: OneSpot!