Storytelling builds an emotional connection with people, and an emotional connection is needed to motivate or influence your audience.

Stories make people care.

Whether it is a sales presentation, an advertisement, or someone telling his or her own story in an interview, storytelling separates the remembered from the forgotten. People don’t forget how you make them feel. Purposeful storytelling is good business.

What is purposeful storytelling?

Purposeful storytelling is thoroughly understanding the Power of Story and crafting your stories in a way that take advantage of these benefits. You need to know your audience well enough that you understand what kind of story will best motivate them – what do they care about. You want to ensure to incorporate into your story the elements that make up a good story, and you must dedicate yourself to practicing the presentation of your story so it is natural and authentic. All of this is needed to ensure your story has the intended impact.

Storytelling can be applied to all business communication. In a marketing-driven economy, storytelling can overpower any fact-based, data-driven message. When faced with data and analysis (think “Death by PowerPoint”) our brains simply try to define what the words and the numbers mean, but when presented with a well-told story, our brains become fully engaged. All our senses are attuned – we can see, hear, feel even smell and taste when immersed in a good story. Distractions are minimized.

Try using a story at your next networking event; sharing a story during a face-to-face with a potential client to explain a point; incorporating storytelling into a formal presentation, either verbal or written; and in an informal conversation simply to inform or entertain.

In a presentation to the State of Michigan, in order to explain how disjointed a project becomes when Business Process Mapping is brought in after-the-fact and not at the start of a project, I tell the story of my grandfather’s cottage on the lake; how he built it in pieces and continued to add on over time. As a result, everything looked like an afterthought. There was no cohesiveness in the construction. The floors didn’t align, the exterior was made up of wood, aluminum, sheet metal and anything else he could find at the dump. A big difference from planning everything out up front, using an architect and creating blueprints so everything flows together.

Purposeful Storytelling requires learning and understanding the techniques and concepts that make a good story.

Knowing the key elements to an effective business story is the beginning:

  • Character
  • Context
  • Conflict
  • Climax
  • Resolution
  • Message

The next step is knowing how to apply these elements in both written and spoken form. If you can tell a story well, your audience will remember you, they will care about the message you are sharing, and that builds the foundation every businessperson needs.