Getting someone to see a situation the same way as you is not an easy task, especially when money (or potentially even jobs) are at stake.
Most people believe that if they explain a situation in depth they will succeed in getting their point across, however this is not always the case.
There are many reasons behind this – firstly, your audience may not be interested in what you have to say, especially if they have opposing opinions, and secondly, your audience may hear what you have to say but not necessarily believe it.
This is why storytelling is so important. Instead of just relaying a message you are convincing your audience to think or act in a certain way using your words. Being able to influence people using storytelling is a skill that takes years to learn, however once you do it can be an extremely valuable asset.
I’ve spent years working with a vast array of clients and colleagues, some more difficult than others. However, storytelling also works with those that are on your side – it’s not just a tool to tackle negative situations.
Storytelling: The basics
There is no single formula for storytelling effectively, as every situation is different, but as with most stories it’s always beneficial to have a beginning, middle and end. Below is an example for a sales pitch situation:
- Beginning – What is the company trying to achieve? What issues do they have? What is preventing them from succeeding
- Middle – Discuss the market the company is in, look at the wider picture. What are the possibilities, challenges, predictions for the future?
- End – How my business is the perfect partner and can solve the issues mentioned in the beginning while integrating with the wider picture previously discussed in the middle.
As you can see in this example, storytelling means creating a wider conversation, not just going straight for the kill.
Furthermore, even though there are three “stages”, each one blends into each other and even refers back to each other down the line.
Read more about pitching for business:
- The secrets to investor and customer pitching
- Ridiculous pitches: How to not get backing from those coveted investors
- How to pitch to billionaire investors like Richard Branson and win
As mentioned, storytelling isn’t just beneficial when it comes to sales pitches or getting a customer to see something from your point of view, it’s also a great way to breed positivity within your company.
Every manager knows that staff members like to feel valued and an important part of the company, however it’s not always possible to spend time with each individual on a regular basis.
Again, storytelling can help here by breeding a positive environment within the company:
- Tell everyone your vision for the future; be brave and bold here, after all if you don’t believe it no one else will.
- Reiterate how this future will only happen if each member of staff is on board – this is a future they should all want to be a part of.
- Always bring any events, changes, new wins, etc. back into your story. Remind everyone that this is the plan and that they are all a part of it.
A final piece of advice: never forget that you are a character in every story you tell and that you need to remain within character at all times. If your audience don’t think you believe in your story then they never will.
Dan Whitehouse is head of digital at digital marketing agency Gravytrain.
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