Storytelling sounds like lying, but it’s not. It’s a deeply human way of understanding abstract facts, figures and events. It is also powerful and necessary.
Dennis Nishi writes in the Wall Street Journal that to persuade people, you need to tell them a story. By weaving ideas into narratives, they become meaningful. Your audience can relate to them and gain a deeper understanding of your message.
“Even with digital and social-media tools, employees often struggle to convey ideas to each other, to managers and to customers. That’s why companies such as FedEx, Kimberly-Clark and Microsoft are teaching executives to tell relatable stories as a way to improve workplace communication,” Nishi writes.
We humans are incredibly ego-driven, self-centered creatures, which is understandable. Millenia of self-preservation, the preservation of our nuclear families and the preservation of our hunting-gathering clans have hard-wired us to want to know why something should matter to us. What pattern does it match? Is it harmful?
As humans, we feel first and think second. And it’s these instinctive emotions that give stories their unparalleled power. This is especially important to recognize if you’re communicating abstract ideas, new information and market-shifting insights to a new audience. Use the power of narrative to connect with how your audience feels so they will be more open to new information.
That means that as business people, we can use narrative to connect with our audience on an emotional level. Abstract concepts and tales will be far more memorable than facts and figures alone. And often, when we feel, we are moved to action.
Stories Give Products Meaning
Consider the Bradley watch from Eone. It is a tactile timepiece that allows you to not only see what time it is, but also to feel what time it is, making it the only watch designed for those who can see and those who can’t. While the product is intriguing, so is the person it is named after — Lt. Brad Snyder. Snyder lost his sight due to an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan as a bomb defuser. Yet he has continued his active lifestyle, winning two gold medals, and one silver, in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics in London.
Snyder’s story allows us to connect emotionally with a timepiece. To date, 3,861 people have supported Eone on Kickstarter, raising more than $594,000.
Think of your business and the stories within it. How can telling relatable stories help you accomplish your goals? When you simplify the facts to make a story easy to remember, it’s more likely your audience will remember you, your company and your message.