Storytelling within organisations is about so much more than telling a funny tale about the office clown before plunging into boardroom discussion or rousing the staff. Similarly effective storytelling is not about ramming information down the throats, or ears, of anyone who will listen. Effective storytelling be it in the boardroom, staff room or stage moves beyond information and captivates the heart of the hearer. What if we take the risk to move beyond an obsession with absolute, quantifiable facts and figures? There maybe another way to share your message, encourage, motivate, stimulate response and enact change than to disseminate information through your presentation like you are reading an instruction manual.
Instead might we explore the exponential persuasive power of indirect messaging. By not giving your audience the answers might just be the way to empower them and encourage buy-in. In truth this is one of the most useful gifts given to us through the use of story.
So what do I mean?
For many years it have been suggested, and encouraged that the best way to communicate is to
1) tell your audience what you are going to say
2) tell your audience what you said you would
3) tell your audience what you just said.
This is a very systematic method and is well suited for written and particularly academic writing. However lets stop there. As we stand on stage, even if we are presenting an academic paper, we must move away from the written text. The way we write successfully is fundamentally different from the way we speak successfully. Moreover the way we story tell successfully is different again.
Storytelling allows us to play with the emotions, memories and association. The storyteller paints a tableau of suggestion; and plants a seed, then waters it with hope, despair, a call to action and promise of a new future.
The reason storytelling is so persuasive and delivers results far beyond the day of the presentation is that story allows us to inform, inspire and empower and then suggest action through indirect allegory in need of interpretation, rather than dictate it through predetermined outcomes. In other words stories leave your hears pondering meaning and possible actions long after they have left the presentation hall. Stories keep them up at night. Stories tease and frustrate and take life in our imaginations and the imagination of those who retell the story.
As a result your audience are transitioned from consumer, into partner and co-author in finishing the story you are telling. They become characters interested and invested in their place in success. Take the risk in moving away from full disclosure; rather offer a framework, a route map, then allow your audience to take the journey.
As the storyteller your place is to inspire your hearers along the right path towards the action you want but not to limit that action by detailing what it must look like. Story therefore should be freeing for your audience and encourage innovation on their part.
So if you want to move beyond the limitations of your own imagination and empower your audience to join you in innovating a successful future then explore the exponential persuasive power of indirect messaging. Become a storyteller.