There has been a lot written recently about the importance of corporate stories (storytelling).  And there is good reason for this. One of my favourite quotes is “People buy on emotion and justify their purchase with logic.”

Stories are sticky. By triggering emotion they light up the neural pathways in our brain and become memorable. Stories make meaning of what we hear: they link one dimensional data with our three dimensional experience.

Stories engage us, inspire us, motivate us and ultimately move us to action.

Here are three tips to help you be a better at storytelling

1. Collect

A study published last year in the Harvard Business Review showed that lecturers who told personal stories had greater credibility with their students than those who did not. In business it’s not just about your war stories. Weaving in your personal experiences as well can make you more approachable, increase your likeability and, as this study shows, increase your credibility.

Stories can come from anywhere. A client from an accounting firm was telling me recently how he and his family had just returned from a holiday in the Northern Territory. One of the highlights was feeding crocodiles.

It involved poking a dead chicken on a pole through a fence where the crocodile would jump up out of the water and snatch the food. He said all he could think about was the croc latching onto the pole, pulling down sharply and flinging his seven year old daughter over the fence and into the water.

FABULOUS! (The story that is, not the daughter as croc bait…)

I then explained to him how he could use this story in his presentation about mitigating risk. Feeding crocs is risky, you need to ensure you have barriers and procedures in place to protect you. The same with financial management in your business – you don’t want to have a client flung into the croc pit!

See the link? It makes your message stick.

2. Structure

Putting some structure around your story makes it easy to follow and easy for you to remember.

Here are two to try:

People, Place, Event

    • Who are the main characters?
    • Where did this happen?
    • What happened and what was the outcome?

Ok, Bad, Better

    • OK – this is where we are now
    • Bad – But things are going to deteriorate if we don’t act soon
    • Better – Here’s where we’ll end up

Keep your storytelling short and simple, it’s the message and meaning that counts.

3. Connect

A great story on its own will not make you an effective speaker. The story needs to be relevant to your objective and also address the audiences’ WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).


Message + Relevance = Great Corporate Story

Want to know more about storytelling?  Give me a call to see how my ‘Facts Tell Stories Sell’ workshop can help you and your team engage and inspire, or you may want to attend my Stand up, Speak up & Persuade public workshop on March 26th

Sharon Ferrier
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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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