New Blog Series: Storytelling for Business
With this blog, I’m launching my new series on Storytelling, for Business.
For the past 30 years, leadership development within the corporate structure has centered around a particular ideal:
The rationale has been: how can we mentor and groom people within our company to take on leadership roles - with the emphasis on public speaking? The theory being that at some point in an employee’s career with a corporation, they will need to give a presentation - either to other staff, to shareholders or even to the public.
Steve Jobs of Apple Corporation became the ultimate corporate speaker. But that kind of single-minded presentation style involves one person, standing on a stage, talking AT a group of (primarily) silent listeners.
Today, the corporate world is evolving and audiences are less interested in passively watching leaders from within the company, demonstraing new products and ideas. Instead, businesses would do well to adopt a new strategy for leadership:
Storytelling differs from public speaking, in the following ways:
It is not a canned, prepared and rehearsed speech
It does not develop the ‘Cult of Personality’ that public speaking has ushered in, particularly over the past decade
It is adaptive, reactive and evolving
It develops, in the individual, much more than the confidence and voice training that public speaking develops
It allows for an exchange of ideas
It better reflects the journey that the individual - and the company - has been on
Put it this way: If you say the same speech, the exact same way, to 100 people - there are probably 5 or 10 people whom that speech is going to really resonate with - no more than 10% of the people you’re speaking to, or in front of.
Instead, storytelling treats your message like a rubber band ball:
Your story is like a rubber band ball, in that each thread of your story represents a band on the ball.
If you stand in front of 100 people and tell your story the exact same way, word for word, each time, you’re only going to have a small percentage of people really relate to your story.
Instead, if you find the common threads between yourself and your audience, and you pivot or position your ‘rubber band ball’ so that those threads are what leads and carries your story, you’re going to make much more of an impact.
The key to storytelling is LISTENING. When we ask questions, solicit feedback, respond and give voice to our audience, we’ll find that storytelling makes a much more effective vehicle for carrying our message.
And when we develop leaders within our corporate structure who don’t just know how to stand on a stage, or give a speech, or present a powerpoint, to make our argument - but who know how to listen, connect, respond and adapt, we’re going to create a wave of business leaders in the future who aren’t prone to the cult of personality ego that we often see in today’s world. We’re going to see leaders who not only listen and respond, but who actually care about their audiences, their public, their people.
I hope you’ll join me for this ongoing blog series, about Storytelling as a Business Development skill. It is the heart and soul of my enterprise, and the reason behind my own Narrative Coaching work.