Last week I was at a Fortune 50 company working with a group of research and development scientists on authentic leadership communication skills. The diverse, multi-stakeholder, global marketplace is driving a new appreciation in business circles for the most basic form of human communication: storytelling.
A new generation of business leaders understands that to build trust and effectively lead, their stories must touch people in their hearts, stir their emotions, stimulate them to question the status quo and motivate them to act.
These leaders know that the best stories win—people’s hearts, minds and commitment.
Stories bridge cultures, gender, age and industries. Storytelling is highly effective when your goal is:
- To present your vision. A story can create a vision of the future, articulate values and build trust.
- Help people make a choice. A story can guide your audience through a decision making process.
- Make abstract ideas a reality. Stories simplify scientific and technical information so that the audience can imagine it as a reality.
To leverage the power of storytelling, it helps to understand:
- A good story makes meaning by tapping into universal human experiences.
- Stories bring abstract ideas to life. Facts don’t speak for themselves, they need an interpreter, a storyteller—to place them in context, as this example illustrates:
- Facts: The Queen died. The King died a week later.
Story: The Queen died and a week later the King died from a broken heart.
- The pain of heartbreak and loss is universal. The emotional power of the King’s grief translates across culture, gender and age.
- Emotion is the gatekeeper of the intellect. Emotions filter the human experience, shaping our beliefs and behavior. A good story speaks to what the audience emotionally needs or values. Marketers have long known that people buy on emotion and justify with intellect.
- Stories create enduring memories. The audience may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
More than sentiment underlies the grip of emotion. Emotions are a complete mind-body event, produced by a secret sauce of hormones, peptides and proteins that creates a chemical imprint on your brain, forming a lasting memory. Strong emotions create vivid memories.
Bess Gallanis on Indezine (Glossary Page)