The Power of Storytelling - Arm Your People with Stories

We've all been there. A dry presentation. A boring pitch. A mind-numbing lecture. What's the common link? A lack of stories that give context and relevance for listeners to latch on to.

Stories are how we put events in perspective and understand why things are the way they are. Whenever we communicate with stories, we give our audience a big mental hook to latch onto in order to understand the key point. Conversely, when facts and ideas are presented theoretically, they become the mental equivalent of greased watermelon - nothing to grab and remember the main point with.

The last company I worked for was a mid-sized manufacturing company headquartered in the U.S. The company had a great history - it was the oldest manufacturing company in the U.S. (founded in 1742!), had built cannon balls for the Revolutionary War, and had navigated countless ups and downs since.

We had the best conversation starter I could imagine, simply drawing stories from the company's history. This was immensely helpful in just about every function of the company - customer / supplier meetings, discussions with service providers and recruitment. These stories were not only interesting but helped anchor an understanding of the company's reliability and framed the discussion of where we were taking the company.

When training new employees, don't get lost in the facts, figures, and processes of an entry level job. Instead, explain a new job by telling stories of where the company has succeeded and where it has failed. 

This does two things:

  1. Makes the lesson more effective - Give the employee a chance of remembering your training by giving the mental hook needed for it to last! 
  2. Arms the employee with a tool to help their success - Teaching an employee how you serve your customers with examples not only teaches them how to identify for and pursue opportunities, it gives that person a story to tell as to how your company has helped others, no matter their role.

Whether the role is sales, customer success, operations or anything else, every job involves effectively communicating with others and articulating the value your company provides. Give employees the tools they need to succeed by sharing with them the relevant stories that help their learning and will enable them to better communicate themselves.