There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou.
Your story is how you can connect with your team and clients. Telling your story from your project management perspective is the best available technique for creating the corporate narrative and bringing your vision into action.
Have you thought something along the lines of What business storytelling is in my current role? What are the purposes of my business stories? How can I further clarify the meaning(s)? How do I offer insight, knowledge, or service through my business storytelling practices?
To connect with your colleagues, your listeners, your management group, your vendors, or your prospective clients, the adoption and practice of business storytelling often distinguish the mediocre professional from the pretty darn good one. Through connecting, we build trust, and trust is a fundamental building block to the structure of relationships evolving and enduring over time.
Business storytelling is the art and science of leveraging narratives of all sorts to communicate and connect with others. Your stories’ purpose is not to entertain (although they may), but rather to convey a meaning or a specific meaning or a desired value or outcome.
Your stories can be great business stories when authentic and tell or show others about who you are and why you are here. This reveals means it is vital that you develop and practice your business stories.
Business stories build a connection that influences how your listeners may feel, think, or act. Your stories can create an organizational culture or dismantle gossip. Business stories can ease transitions, break-down barriers in communication, and unite teams under a shared narrative.
They can work to capture the imagination, illustrate ideas, arouse actions, or stimulate thought in ways that pure factual data cannot on its own ever achieve. So, if you want to motivate others and connect effectively, you need to learn how to tell a solid business story.
Business storytelling is a modern form of social influence, which is highly under-appreciated and misunderstood. It is not a complicated and elusive task. Instead, it is how you organize a story to communicate a meaning that is work-relevant to your listener(s). This social influence is an opportunity to demonstrate your authority and choose to exude positive energy at the same time.
Your stories tell others how you can position your thoughts in a narrative that shows confidence and can command respect.
For you to hone your storytelling and begin on the path to becoming a great storyteller, please know that your story, no matter what the context, must inspire people to listen. There are three integrated components to a compelling and connecting business story: context, action, result, and business meaning.
Your business storytelling works when it is your story. Follow 3 steps:
Appreciate the significance of context, as many mediocre business storytellers do. A sharp, specific context limits the two-sided possibility of listener confusion and boredom. It is your story’s context that stimulates interest and makes a connection; your listener will then care about what it is you have to say.
Here is a quick questions-driven template to start you on your path: Where and when does your story occur? Clarify the immediately if its fact or fiction. Who is the main character? Who are the support characters? Often you are your own best main character. Make your business stories highly relatable and grounded for your listeners.
What is motivating the main character? What is it that they want, and what do they seek to accomplish? What are the obstacles that impede the main character? What or who is in the way. A person, place, or thing? It is a challenge to overcome.
The action of your story is the process of the specified events unfolding. You have a two-tiered the opportunity here to choose the events and then choose how you describe their occurrence. The action of your story initiates and keeps your listeners riveted, curious, and in your sphere of influence throughout your speaking.
After all, your main character has to “do” something. It is the tension in the process of accomplishment that creates tension and anticipation in your story. It is a powerful tool to leverage and sway connections with others. In that same tension, you have the experience of the story becoming everyone’s experience.
Result and Business Meaning
The conclusion or end of your story is the point of revelation, where you show the business-relevant meaning of your tale. It is just as relevant to establish a straightforward start to your story with its context to offer a profound ending. A compelling business story cannot peter out at the end, it does not trail off pointlessly, and your audience must not usurp it. The ending is how you can solidly your collective experience of the story itself, and, of course, seal the connection you have meaningfully forged with your listeners.
Think about what it is your audience will have learned? What do you want to demonstrate as valuable? What is the business application for your story? Has there been a lesson or a result? In other words, “Why did you tell this story?”
Bringing your vision into action – connecting – is all in your story.
By: Diana Kawarsky, MA CCP
Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc. She is a senior training & development professional with 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, the USA, Asia, and Europe.
Diana regularly teaches at the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) of York University, where her feedback ranks her within the top 3% of all faculty.
She is the author of Soft Skills Volume 1, a clever go-to resource for professionals to make thoughtful choices to improve themselves and set themselves up for success and The Soft Cs, delivering high impact content with a great sense of humor; providing the insights and tools that you need to put your best self forward.