Business Story – Telling

Stories can be very,very powerful leadership tools. Stories can change the way we think, act, and feel. Great leaders know this, and many top CEOs today use stories to illustrate points and sell their ideas. Leaders use the power of a good story to influence and motivate their teams to new heights. Stories can inspire everything from understanding to action. They can create legends that an entire workplace culture can build upon, and they have the power to break down the barriers and turn a bad situation into a good one. Stories can capture our imaginations and make things real in a way that cold, hard facts can’t.

But how to tell a good story? When should you tell a story, and how do you know what kind of story to tell to get the results you want? The following summarizes the points given by Annette Simmons, author of  “Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins“.

Types of Stories:

Learn what kind of story to tell for different situations. There are six main types of story that you can use in the workplace.

1.  “Who I Am Stories – When you start leading a team, members of your new team sometimes make automatic judgments about who you are. They may see you as controlling, mean, or “out to get them” without really knowing you. If you tell a “Who I Am ” story when you first become a team leader, you can give a powerful insight into what really motivates you. This can break down walls and helps your team realize that you’re a person just like them.

2.  “Why I’m Here” Stories – These are very similar to “Who I Am” stories. The goal is to replace suspicion with trust, and help your team realize that you don’t have any hidden agendas. Show that you’re a good person, and that you want to work together with them to achieve a common goal.

3.  Teaching Stories – It can be very hard to teach without demonstrating, and that’s the whole purpose of Teaching Stories. Use Teaching Stories to make a lesson clear and to help people remember why they ‘re doing something in the first place.

4.  Vision Stories – Tell these to inspire hope, especially when your team needs occasional reminders of why they’re doing what they should be doing.

Vision Stories are meant to stimulate action and raise morale. Find a story that reminds everyone what the ultimate goal is, and why it’s important that everyone reaches that goal. This type of story should be told from your heart, with emotion.

5.   “Values in Action” Stories – When you see the word “integrity” what do you think of? Honesty? Doing the right thing to the right person? Every value can mean something different from person to person. If you want to pass on values to your team, start by defining what those values mean to you. So, if you want your team to demonstrate a high level of customer service, then tell a story that reveals exactly what customer service means to you.

6.  “I Know What You’re Thinking” Stories – The world of business involves frequent bargaining. The advantage of telling this type of story is that you can recognize another person’s objections, and then show why those objections aren’t applicable in this situation. You can show respect for the other point of view while convincing the person that you’re right.

Tips When Telling Your Stories:

Keep these suggestions in mind when telling your stories:

  • Be authentic – The best storytellers talk from their hearts, so don’t try to fake an emotion that you don’t feel. Your listeners will probably see through this, and your story will crash and burn.
  • Pay attention to your audience: Stories that are too long are generally boring. Tell the story well, but don’t go on forever.
  • Practice – Try to practice before you tell the story. Even if you tell it to yourself just once in front of a mirror or video camera, this can help you when you’re in front of your real audience.
  • Create an Experience – Remember that when you tell a story, you’re creating an experience for your listeners. Don’t just use sound (words), but the other senses as well. Show your listeners the picture you’re painting, don’t just tell them.

Know which kind of story to tell, and spend time brainstorming some good ideas from each type of situation. Remember, you’re creating an experience for your listeners, so focus on using at least two or three senses when you tell your story. Create interest, and draw your listeners in. Show them what you’re saying, don’t just tell them.

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