Who comes to your mind when you think of someone with interesting communication abilities? The ones you enjoy listening to. Most likely someone who tells stories. What makes them different? What puts them on a different list in your mind?
Telling a story is the simplest and natural way of communicating messages. When you share an incident with your friends or colleagues, it’s a story. And it’s not too different in a business context. How well you communicate your ideas and messages, determines how well you can influence your audience. Stories engage the brain in a deeper way than plain facts, figures, and words.
In his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, psychologist Jerome Bruner estimates that facts are approximately 22 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.
Every human is a storyteller. Only their style is unique and their effectiveness as storytellers varies. But the traits of great storytellers are the same irrespective of industry, background, experience, or educational degrees.
So, what are the traits of a good storyteller?
Good storytellers use their ability to put themselves in others’ shoes and seek to understand others’ wants and fears. They tune into what others are saying – as well as the unspoken parts. They put this ability to use in their narratives by keeping the focus on the hero of the story, instead of themselves.
Simplify complex stuff
Makers of early automobile cars knew that “steam-driven vehicle” was a concept people did not understand. So they called it a ‘horseless carriage’. Good storytellers keep things simple and ease the learning curve for the audience. They know simplicity is key to understanding the message.
Understand the power of words & emotions
Storytellers know how to engage with the emotions of their audience. Their understanding of human emotions helps them evoke a range of feelings from hope to happiness. They work on the use of words, tone of voice, and body language. A CEO’s address in a town hall meeting can evoke feelings of confidence in employees, while a customer service professional can put this trait to use in effectively handling a customer situation.
Have Clear Objectives
Storytellers work to first get clarity within their minds, which they then communicate to people. Everything they say is a build-up toward a specific goal. Their narrative is around a central message that is delivered using stories.
We are all storytellers
Storytelling isn’t essential only for leaders or those in sales and marketing. Everyone operating in a business context needs to hone their storytelling abilities.
Every time we communicate, we are telling stories. We all have everyday opportunities to sharpen our storytelling abilities and put them to work. Building on these traits can make a difference in the effectiveness of your communication.