Business storytelling – I’m afraid it won’t work

September 6, 2017

One of the biggest challenges leaders face when using business storytelling is the fear that it won’t work. When we tell a personal story, we feel vulnerable, and the stakes are high, thereby creating pressure points around success. We seldom apply this same pressure test to data that we might use! (That’s just a sideways rant  🙂 )

Fear of failing might be a way of sabotaging our use of storytelling altogether. Is this an easy cop-out? What if it doesn’t work? This is the standard bogeyman that every stand-up comedian faces every day.

One lesson we can borrow from them is that they always test their material. With business storytelling, we can test our stories with friends, family members and even a supportive colleague before using it at that important pitch.

But, for me, important work to ensure success happens before the testing stage itself. When we draft a story, we always draft it with a purpose and audience in mind. Answering the question, ‘How does this serve my audience?’ helps us stay on track with our stories. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to keep your stories short. This works for both you and your audience.

When you deliver a story, you are often greeted by silence.
As leaders, we might misinterpret this silence and react with ‘OMG, it didn’t work.’ In business storytelling, silence is the equivalent of a standing ovation at the end of a performance. Silence means your audience is thinking about what you have said, and you can use the silence to sit back and savour the sweet taste of success.

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