A little over four years ago, I left the C-suite to begin the next chapter in my life. During my first few months, I had the opportunity to do some serious soul searching and self discovery. Like many of you, I have a passion for learning. I initially focused much of my reading around increasing my knowledge of what makes a great vs. mediocre leader. You know, things like humility, drive, vision, character, servant’s heart and excellent communicator.
Not too long into it, I had an ah hah moment. While I thought I had strong communication skills, it occurred to me that if I wanted to take things to another level there was one major area that I needed to improve. I learned about the incredible power of storytelling and how using stories was a part of the secret sauce for the best of the best.
I’m still not great at storytelling, but am getting better. The more I tell my clients how they can incorporate and benefit from it, the more I tend to use it.
Last week, Jeff and I received a copy of a storytelling whitepaper entitled Bold Brands Drive Revenue with Storytelling. It was written by NCM Fathom who helps major brands convey their messages through events at their national network of movie cinemas . The storytelling topic always catches my eye and this is one of the better short reads I’ve come across on the topic.
Here’s an excerpt taken from whitepaper that jumped off the page for me:
Good Stories Compel People to Change
- The way we feel. Stories demand an emotional investment.
- The way we think. Stories pique and hold interest.
- The way we act. Stories bring energy to the message.
- The way we behave. Stories cause us to take action.
DNA of a Great Story
Things around us are changing at a rapid pace and storytelling is a great tool to help accelerate and enable change.
A great story will include these elements:
- Real people like your members, attendees or exhibitors.
Don’t just look for those in leadership positions.
- A difficult problem or challenge.
What are the top three issues impacting your attendees’ business success? What are the real reasons members don’t register or exhibitors decline to show their wares? Are the challenges different for each of your primary segments? Consider stories for each.
- How did participating in your events help them solve their problem?
Details are important. Err on the side of brevity.
- A powerful emotional connection.
This is what really makes your story have an impact or even go viral. Work hard to find that emotional hook. Stories that have a strong emotional ending are usually the ones that have the greatest impact.
Putting the four elements of a great story into practice.
Associations that adopt storytelling will have a process and culture for collecting and sharing the best stories.
- They’ll make sure that their staff, board and committees antennas are always up looking for that “killer story.” (Seeking real people.)
- They will ask open ended questions searching for a deeper understanding of attendance benefits. (Understanding a difficult problem or challenge.)
- They might seek out attendees or exhibitors that were on the fence, attended anyway, and are ecstatic they did. (How participating in your event helped the attendee solve their problem.)
- Their culture will encourage the use of Flip or digital cameras to capture the emotion. (Providing the emotional connection.)
Much like target marketing, you want your stories to be as relevant as possible. Segmenting your audience and doing your push distribution to only those that it aligns with is critical. If it’s a great story, those that connect with it most, will spread it for you.
Has storytelling had a positive impact on your organization or your life? When you think about the best leaders and their traits, is storytelling one of the skills that made them special? Got any cool stories or storytelling ideas to share?