What is business storytelling?


Business storytelling is storytelling with a purpose and for results. Let’s look at an example.

Two salesmen were sent to Africa in the 1900s to see if there was any opportunity for selling shoes. They wrote telegrams back to Manchester, one of them writing, “Situation hopeless. Stop. They don’t wear shoes.” And the other one wrote, “Glorious opportunity. They don’t have any shoes yet.”

This story, shared by Benjamin Zander at the start of his TED talk, had the audience roaring with laughter. Zander links this to his message. There’s a similar situation in the classical music world, because there are some people who think that classical music is dying. Yet, there are some of us who think you ain’t seen nothing yet. He is passionate about classical music, but knows most of his audience will probably roll their eyes at the mention of this genre. So he uses the most powerful tool in the book, storytelling.

This is an example of business storytelling that is purposeful (links to his message), tailored around an audience and delivers Zander results. The surprising thing about business storytelling is that your stories do not have to be about business! That would be boring. Business storytelling, whether it involves parables like this one or personal stories, is about engaging people’s hearts and emotions.

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