Storytelling: Effectiveness and Responsibility

This is not a formal essay or a professional article. This is not an attempt at storytelling either. I’m just thinking about how important stories are in our every day lives and why they translate so well to business.

What makes storytelling so effective? When you speak to a crowd are you trying to evoke an emotion, raise a call to action, or simply ask for a bit of self reflection? Obviously the end result is creating a unique bridge between yourself and your listeners so they feel the path from where they sit to where you stand was constructed just for them. But when they meet you, and shake your hand, where does the relationship go? Do they buy your book, hire your services, or were you really there to offer a free exchange of information because you want those listening to come to a conclusion you came to in the past?

I’ve made videos in the past on storytelling. As an entrepreneur it’s one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal.

Why?

It’s authentic, it’s on brand, it’s completely unique to you, and it’s versatile.

Diving deeper into what I mean by this is that no one can share your stories better than you can. They can repeat the story they heard “that one time” at a party but no one can capture the same emotional subtleties and cues in your personal tale better than you. They can take the story and apply it to their own life though. They can hear a tale of you overcoming adversity, reflect on their own personal obstacles, and use your words as a springboard to take the next steps in their life.

If you’re using stories for sales then the next step in their life would be to buy from you. Buy this product or service and you’ll get this result (I know that sounds like a manipulative sales tactic and some salesmen may use it that way but it doesn’t have to be if you truly believe in the product or service).

If it’s not sales it might be a call to action. You’ll start your journey facing great conflict, walk them through the steps you took to come out the other side a better man/woman and come to a certain conclusion; those listening can avoid the same trials and errors you went through by listening to your story and if you captured their attention enough they could come to the same way of thinking as you (again, possibly manipulative but doesn’t have to be. I think by now you’re starting to see a trend).

Not to sound cheesy but when they’re used as a force of “good” a story is able to reach an audience of any size and literally change the way they think. I obviously don’t mean in the sense of futuristic mind control. Stories are powerful because they build a bond between the speaker and the listener based on trust. One is revealing personal details of their life and the other knows more about them than they would a casual friend. They also don’t go away. Once a story resonates with someone a part of that story will always linger. As a child, I don’t think I actually sat down to read Aesop’s Fables but I can still share the premise of the Tortoise and the Hare.

So they’re effective because they build a bond between the speaker and the listener(s). They’re able to draw from a wide variety of material like communal conflict, history, philosophy, and adventure. They can highlight a problem and guide listeners towards a solution and their message can linger for years.

If I had to summarize what I’ve written so far I guess it would be something like don’t underestimate your personal story and be responsible with it.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

-Anthony Burgess

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s