Storytelling as a communication tool is finally receiving the recognition it deserves.
More leaders and professionals now understand storytelling is an important part of their role.
That’s the good news.
However, most people still don’t realize how many storytelling opportunities are right there in front of them on a daily basis. Most people aren’t maximizing nearly enough of their storytelling opportunities.
Here are nine storytelling opportunities you should maximize – now:
The average leader and team member will receive 161 emails on a daily basis.
Yeah, I know that makes most of you shudder. Me, too.
What if we committed to interjecting storytelling in just a third of our email responses? Make an analogy that ties back to your core values in your response. Use an anecdote to make a point.
Wouldn’t that help us connect with employees? Engage customers and prospects more?
Meetings (Zoom and other)
Leaders and individual contributors tend to have three to four meetings per day.
Why not leverage the power of storytelling in each of those meetings?
Ask meeting attendees to tell a brief story in two minutes or less. You pick the subject.
If five people are in the meeting, each person will hear stories they haven’t heard before.
In 10 minutes, the group learns and is engaged more.
Texting has become an important communication channel in business and continues to grow each day, with the average number of texts at 33 per day. Interject a brief anecdote during a text string to convey what you see as the major takeaway of the conversation.
During my workshops, I’ll often hear from a leader who asks how they can tell a story in a text. If you’ve built your key storytelling pillars around your core values, your competitive advantages, those stories are told again and again. This enables you to refer to the story with a sentence or headline that triggers the memory of the recipient of your text, email, or whatever channel you are using at the time.
Yes, that smartphone can still be used as a phone. I know. Some of you are skeptical your phone might work as a phone. Leaders average six phone calls per day. You can incorporate storytelling into these calls.
When you leave a voicemail, your smartphone transcribes your message, which gives your target both audio and voice inflection when they listen to the voicemail.
Inflection matters. It conveys emotion and emphasizes the key elements of your story, the major takeaways. It’s actually smart to use the smartphone as a phone.
Are you writing and posting to the company blog? If not, take the time to put out your story. It personalizes your message and makes you more relatable. Your customers, prospects and team members will know your passion, your mindset, what drives you. This helps build trust and creates connections.
The company blog can be a hub in your storytelling efforts because the link can be shared in emails and through social media channels, increasing the exposure of that message to each key target audience.
LinkedIn is a great storytelling vehicle for leaders and individual contributors.
Is your LinkedIn profile robust?
Are you posting, liking and sharing relevant stories?
Are you incorporating your company’s success stories into your LinkedIn presence?
LinkedIn provides a great opportunity for leaders to tell their stories, build relationships and increase awareness of the company and what makes it unique.
Instead of reading a long slide in a deck, which you don’t like when you’re in the audience, use stories around an image or a phrase to convey the strategy. Incorporate anecdotes and analogies into team meetings and external business development presentations.
People buy on emotion. You’re selling your vision and your strategies both internally and externally. Make it memorable by telling stories.
Pre-COVID 19, we averaged 27 in-person encounters per day walking around the office, going to and from meetings, running into people at events, etc.
How many of those in-person storytelling opportunities were you leveraging?
How often were you prepared to use an anecdote to make a key point tied to your company’s core values? How often did you make an analogy to emphasize one of your company’s competitive advantages? Are you tying stories back to your strategic plan?
You also need to focus on business to employee storytelling because it helps with the 3 R’s of company growth:
Results: Productivity increases when storytelling increases because it improves internal communication.
Retention: You want to keep your peak performing employees. They want to understand the why, the big picture. Stories convey the why.
Recruitment: When potential employees are choosing where to work, they can easily compare the concrete numbers around compensation and benefits. Your storytelling is what can set you apart because you explain the company culture and what makes you different.
You can leverage the power of storytelling more every day.
Build your own storytelling opportunity inventory to maximize each of the nine areas. Create your stories with anecdotes and analogies. Tell them again and again to each of your key target audiences.