Whether we realise it or not, we all tell stories every single day. But how do grasp the power of storytelling to find our own voices and be better leaders?
In my first of two blogs aimed at business leadership, I look at what storytelling actually is and why it’s not just another marketing trend.
Back in the glory days of face-to-face networking, I used to take great pleasure in working the room, rancid cup of coffee in hand, telling people I was storyteller. Their responses would normally fall into 1 of 2 categories.
First up there was the “ooh, so does that mean you go into schools and read books to children?” group. An easy mistake to make. Maybe. And then there was the other crowd. The tad cynical, eye rollers who would sigh and say “so you work in marketing then?”.
Ok, so yes, I have spent the majority of my career working in corporate marketing but like all of us, I’ve been telling stories all my life. I just happen to make a living from it now!
So, why is storytelling more than just marketing hype?
Because it’s in our DNA.
Would we have survived as a species if one cave person hadn’t said to the next, you know Mary who lives over by that hillock, she ate those shiny red berries and died a horribly painful death, best we stay away from them?!
“Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.LISA CRON, WIRED FOR STORY
Because actual SCIENCE says so.
When I was deciding what to call my business, I found some neuroscience research which said stories are 22x more memorable than facts and figures alone. Stories stimulate 5 different areas of the brain (compared to just 2 for facts) including the sensory cortex. This is why, when you friend is telling you all about the delicious meal they had the night before, your mouth waters and you can actually begin to taste what they are describing.
Because we suffer from info-overload
Our senses are fed 11 million bits of information a second. On a good day, our brains can process just 7 of them. On a bad day, probably when you are homeschooling, it’s as low as 5.
That means if you WANT TO BE HEARD, for whatever it is you are doing and by whoever it is you are trying to speak to, you’ve got a shed load of competition. You need to find a way to cut through all that noise and be remembered. And that, dear readers, is why storytelling is not a marketing gimmick.
What can telling stories do for you as a leader?
Thanks in part to digital transformation, we now crave connections in a way we haven’t done before. Everything is about the experience and the business world is no different.
In order for us to be better leaders, we need to build stronger emotional connections with those around us. We need to show them we understand their needs and can help them solve their problems. We need to show them why we care and the values that underpin this. And we need to help them understand complex ideas and bring them along on the journey with us.
Four ways stories can make you a better leader
- Stories bring together like-minded people focussed on a shared goal and shared experiences and create a strong sense of community, perfect for getting things done
- Storytelling gives everyone a voice. By telling your own stories, you create a platform and culture for others to follow
- Stories create connections which help relationships thrive. Showing compassion, empathy and vulnerability in the stories you tell builds trust; key, for example when building a sales relationship with a customer or partner or when building a team.
- Stories help you motivate others; sharing where you’ve come from and what you’ve achieved gives hope to others that they can do the same
And don’t forget, telling stories makes you more memorable, 22x in fact!
If you need any more convincing, or would like to explore how storytelling could help you become a better leader email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my storytelling packages here