Ever heard of the term “corporate storytelling”, or “business storytelling”, and wonder if it really works? You’re probably thinking, in a professional business setting, isn’t storytelling a little, inappropriate perhaps?
What if your bosses and your peers start thinking you’re not serious about the presentation, and your audience starts treating you as a joke? Won’t that be a terrible, negative outcome?
HISTORY & REALITY TELL US OTHERWISE
The truth is, as humans, we are innately attracted to stories. We grew up with them, and we would pay to be entertained. Sure, spreadsheets may carry lots of information about a business, but if you think about it, do those lines of data and columns of numbers ever made anyone burst out in laughter? Or choke up in tears? Better yet, do people even “remember” those data after the presentation ended?
Human beings, are beings of emotions, and when a piece of information triggers us emotionally, we remember it. Research has shown that when presenting data in the form of facts and figures, it’s activating the language-processing zone of our brain. Nothing wrong with that because it’s logical.
However, when we are presented with a story, it activates our image processing zone, which is 60,000 times faster and more powerful than the language-processing counterpart. If that is not enough, as mentioned above, stories will trigger emotions, and also engage all the other five senses!
The Image Processing zone of our brain is 60,000 times faster and more powerful than the Language Processing counterpart.
TAKE THE FRIED CHICKEN TEST
Play this video and close your eyes, and tell me if you don’t think of biting into the crunchy, savory coating of a hot, sizzling piece of fried chicken (or perhaps one piece is not enough now!). As you swallow, even if it’s just saliva for now, you remember the taste of the last fried chicken you had. Suddenly the memory seemed so distant, reminding you that it has been a while since your last visit to the store. You can almost even smell the distinctive aroma that comes with it, that sensation before you wash it down a cup of icy, fizzy drink. With your eyes closed still, you may find yourself licking your lips, and unconsciously cover your mouth with your hand. It’s not that you’re embarrassed by the thoughts, but instead, it’s the muscle memory that triggers your body to react to it.
Did we need to tell you the exact amount of salt and spices that go into the seasoning? Or how long you need to fry each individual piece? Or the best way to hold your chicken before sinking your teeth into it?
“But this is an advertisement? How can I treat my business presentations in such a way?”
Actually, you can. And for that, we need to look at the maestro of business launches, the reference point for any modern day presenter.
THE MASTER OF STORYTELLING
Steve Jobs – The Master Storyteller
When the late Steve Jobs was introducing the iPod, he didn’t talk about the storage space. After all, do you really know how much is 10GB? But, when Steve said it can hold 1000 songs, now, that triggers pictures in the audience’s mind. Mentally, you will start imagining which of your personal music collections you’ll like to add into the small, pocket-sized device.
What about the other time when he pulled a MacBook Air out of a manila envelope and showed it to the world. He did not say it was just 1cm thick; the gesture of taking it out from the envelope told the audience that it’s as thin as a magazine!
Those are two great examples of how storytelling elements are used to replace facts. It’s about creating a memorable experience, and no one has created such impact with rows of numbers and lines of words. But with a compelling story accompanied by great visuals, it creates an experience that people still talk about years and years later. Remember Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream?”, or President JFK’s Moonshot speech?
3 REAL REASONS WHY CORPORATE STORYTELLING WORKS FOR LEADERS LIKE YOU
Here are a couple of other benefits of incorporating storytelling into your presentations.
1. Your audience will relate better.
Stories connect people, and even since the old days, they had always been a shared experience. As a leader, when you use stories to illustrate your points, your employees will be able to link those points to their daily tasks. For instance, when you share stories of delighted customers, the customer service team will be reminded that service excellence is a value that the company emphasize on, and will strive to do a better job with the next customer.
2. Your audience will remember better.
Most employees will not remember the sales targets of the year before, but they can remember the celebration when they had when the bonuses were given out. Similarly, they will also recall the disappointment they feel when the reverse happened. Stories serve as great reminders that stand the test of time. And even if they had forgotten, sometimes a quick nudge is all that is needed to bring back the emotions and memories, and reenergize the staff.
3. Your audience will be able to retell better.
How you’d know when your story is amazing? It is when you caught your people cascading the message to the next person. When a story is simple and relatable, it can be shared easily, along with the learning points that it carries. Don’t worry if they get some details of the story wrong, or perhaps the flow is a little off; what’s important is the message. Historically, our ancestors would use stories as a medium for knowledge transfer. It has been time-tested, so it only made sense if you leverage it too.
As you see, there are lots of myths around corporate storytelling, but there’s no denying that it works. Almost all successful leaders – past, present, and most probably future – use it to inform people, instill values and inspire passion.
Now that you know corporate storytelling is crucial, the next challenge is identifying the right method and strategy, and that is what we cover in our Slick Presentation training. In this program that combines visual storytelling, facilitation methodology and effective content structuring, you and your team will have a hands-on experience of building presentations from scratch using a proven, structured method. Regardless if it’s a 15-minute briefing to your management, 2-days training to department heads or even a TED-like keynote to a 2,000+ audience, you will be able to incorporate compelling storytelling strategies into your session, leaving your audience with a positive, memorable experience.
Talk to one of our consultants on how you and your organization can leverage Slick Presentation to enhance the influence and charisma of all your presenters.