I can remember being with groups of people in various situations over the years and not knowing what to say. I’m an introvert and tend to hold my thoughts and feelings inside, at least most of the time. But once I began sharing my stories with others, slowly at first and then picking up steam, everything changed for me. I had learned the concept of “storytelling for everyone” and even found the right quote to describe how I was feeling…
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” ~ Hopi American Indian proverb
Storytelling is universal and has existed since the beginning of human history. Yet in business, we often forget to tell our stories and this is a shame, because stories are one of the best ways to connect with customers and encourage them to take action. In business, we often focus on objective data, facts and figures, product features, charts, technology and engagement through social media. However, storytelling reaches people on an emotional level. Stories communicate to the listener exactly what you do and what you stand for. Therefore, it’s essential to craft compelling stories, both about yourself and your business.
Why We Love Stories
The human mind simply loves stories. Stories make a company or person relatable. Just like the characters in a book, we see ourselves in certain aspects of the story’s characters. We identify and empathize with them. For a business, this breaks down the barrier between company and customer.
For example, we love rags-to-riches stories. There are many websites or businesses that tell this classic story. The owner was down and out, all of the odds were against them, they didn’t know what to do and were nearing rock-bottom, when inspiration came knocking. This spark of an idea led to them founding the business whose website you’re now reading. This is an rousing story that follows the classic conflict-to-resolution plot arc.
Consider the example of a social worker starting a fundraising organization. Social work is hard, and as she begins to grow into her role, it all seems like too much for her. Then, she has a breakthrough one night walking home from work where she encounters a homeless woman asking for money, and it hits her. She discovers that it truly is her calling and she needs to do whatever she can to help those in need. This story can help her raise money for her fundraiser.
Stories also work well because they’re interesting and engaging. You can take any kind of content that may be slightly dry or dull, and weave it together with a story to make it much more interesting and dramatic. This is why we love TED Talks so much. TED Talks often present very difficult or technical information, but it’s put together with the personal story of the presenter to give it life.
We are all natural storytellers at heart, but sometimes it’s hard to discover stories that will help our businesses build relationships, stir emotions, and engage our customers.
How to Turn Your Stories Into Smart Conversation
I was recently reading an article from Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker on How to Turn Small Talk into Smart Conversation and in it they share some excellent ideas around the subject of storytelling for everyone.
Imagine almost any situation where two or more people are gathered—a wedding reception, a job interview, two off-duty cops hanging out in a Jacuzzi.
What do these situations have in common? Almost all of them involve people trying to talk with each other. But in these very moments where a conversation would enhance an encounter, we often fall short. We can’t think of a thing to say.
Or worse, we do a passable job at talking. We stagger through our romantic, professional and social worlds with the goal merely of not crashing, never considering that we might soar. We go home sweaty and puffy, and eat birthday cake in the shower.
We at What to Talk About headquarters set out to change this. Below, a few tips for introverts (and everyone else) on how to turn small talk into big ideas at the next Social Obligation Involving Strangers:
Ask for stories, not answers. Try . . .
“What’s your story?”
“What did you do today?”
“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”
“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today?”
“How’d you end up in your line of work?”
“What does your name mean? What would you like it to mean?”
“What was the best part of your weekend?”
“What are you looking forward to this week?”
“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
“What does this house remind you of?”
“If you could teleport by blinking your eyes, where would you go right now?”
Are you ready to share your stories with the world? Think about how you will craft each one to make a point and share your insight and perspective on the world around you. Here’s an exercise I want to share with you from my colleague Ellen Finkelstein. She asked us to write a brief, true story – 3-4 sentences – that illustrates a principle that you stand for. This is what I shared…
I’ve befriended a new family on my street. They arrived a year ago and have stayed inside most of the time. Last month I knocked on the door, introduced myself, and gave them some books I had ordered from Scholastic for their children. Now we are friends and we exchanged small gifts on Easter, even though they do not celebrate this holiday. I love my new Chinese friends and look forward to sharing more time and stories with them.
Okay, so this is five sentences, but you get the idea and point here. I turned this into an article about this family you may enjoy reading. Storytelling for everyone is something that is here to stay and holds the potential to change your life and grow your business.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you are new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my comprehensive training on how to set up Funnels That Click and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.