The power of a well-crafted story can serve you well in business, in life and even Senate testimony.
If you’re like me, you followed former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony. It was riveting, and partly because, lordy, the guy can tell a story. Many professionals struggle with storytelling but it’s often key to effective communications, no matter what form they take (I’m looking at you, PowerPoint!).
A 2013 Stanford study showed that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone. So whether you are pitching a new client, writing web copy or meeting with your manager, it pays to leverage the power of storytelling.
Get personal. There’s nothing more resonant and relatable than a personal story, honestly told. The secret to pretty much every popular TED Talk is to use an anecdote to drive home a point. When it comes to talking about your business or your personal brand, pinpoint what sets you apart from the pack. And then talk about why you have a passion for it. Showing a human, vulnerable side cultivates interest and affinity, which can lead to a long-term business relationship.
Drop some truth. In a world where “fake news” gets thrown around and people question facts, authenticity is more important than ever. Clients can sniff out insincerity. On the flip side, however, if you are consistent and honest in your communications, you will build trust among colleagues and clients that can serve you well for years to come.
Create a story arc. Craft a beginning, middle and end with your content. Create tension by building to a climactic moment, saving a key detail until the end. Think like a fiction writer, and use classic dramatic structure: rising action, climax, falling action, resolution or denouement. If you are creating a website for your business, pinpoint your potential clients’ needs, how you will uniquely address them and what the payoff will be. Challenge yourself to build structure and drama into your most routine communications.
Keep things tight. Your storytelling efforts, whether verbal or written, should be on point and concise. After you’ve finished writing something, go back and cut it down further, eliminating any extraneous sentences, phrases and words. There is so much content vying for an individual’s attention that you must be quick and compelling to grab and retain a client or customer’s interest. If you have a lengthy or complicated message to impart, serialize it into multiple pieces, teasing future installments. Good storytellers know to leave them wanting more.