How Storytelling Can Boost Your Leadership When It’s Time to Engage and Inspire
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
It’s no wonder storytelling is making a comeback in the workplace.
During the decades dominated by traditional management, formal, number-based communication superseded communication expressing emotions and feelings. Similarly, written communication supplanted verbal conversations. Overlooking these most basic needs certainly contributed to the sorry state of workers engagement in organizations today.
As organizations struggle to re-humanize, telling stories emerged as a powerful and versatile leadership skill.
As organizations struggle to re-humanize, telling stories emerged as a powerful and versatile leadership skill that proved effective in a variety of situations, such as conveying a vision, inspiring, influencing, persuading, overcoming conflicts, or simply introducing yourself, among many others.
Let’s have a look at what makes a great story. Although some leaders are natural storytellers, most take some time to design and practice their stories.
Flesh out characters whom the audience will develop empathy with.
Great stories usually share these characteristics:
What’s the point of the story? Inspire, motivate, challenge, trigger action, persuade… A well articulated purpose is instrumental to provide sense and meaning to the audience.
Know your audience
Who are they? Are they more analytical or emotional? Are they friendly to the idea? What are their expectations? Are they looking for information, or are they ready to make a decision? Are they open to being challenged? Imagine how they would react to the story.
Develop a plot with a challenge, suspense, climax, resolution, and solution.
Facts + Emotions
Mix facts and numbers with feelings and perceptions. Images and emotions are 22 times more memorable than raw facts and text.
Flesh out characters whom the audience can relate to, develops empathy with. Concepts, principles, models and so on are not characters. Characters are people.
Classical narrative arc
To give your story some more zest, use metaphors and don't forget that we have five senses.
But it’s not enough to have a great story to tell. In storytelling, delivering the story is just as important as designing the story.
Use body language
Observe, listen and probe to keep in tune with your audience
Keep it short – Beginner storytellers tend to cram too much detail in the story. Don’t underestimate the audience’s ability to fill in the blanks. Leave some space for imagination.
In the light of these storytelling good practices, take a few seconds to look back at people you’ve met who demonstrated great communication or leadership skills. Whatever feats they accomplished, I bet that they were, knowingly or not, telling stories.
Download this handy storytelling checklist along with our top storytelling references: