Petra Smith

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How to use storytelling in business

How to use storytelling in business

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to attract people’s attention - no matter if your audience is a small child, clients or a group of friends in the pub. The latest neuroscience research confirms that irrespective of the way we present the story – words, gestures or pictures – our brains create connections with the specific people and their feelings in the story. This connection is much more intensive compared to facts and data and our memories are more intensive and last longer.

Storytelling in business creates a competitive advantage – helps to create an effective marketing communication strategy, triggers interest with potential clients and strengthens loyalty with your existing ones. Your story affects how your clients remember you and also helps to motivate your team. Airbnb lets their customers tell their personal stories about belonging and feeling home anywhere in the world, Dove tells stories about real beauty and Nike tells stories about achieving the impossible.

Sharing stories allows us to connect with people in real life, create emotional connections and trigger our listeners’ attention. We all know how to tell a story, but what makes a difference is being able to tell a good story and tell the story well, making it relevant to the audience. And marketing is just about that – telling a good story, so it is remembered and shared for a long time.

How to connect with your audience

  • To attract and keep your audience’s attention, it is essential to get to know their specific interests, needs and challenges. Knowing the audience helps to identify the relevant stories and chose the best way to tell the story so it triggers the intended reaction

  • Show your audience that you understand the challenges, context and culture of their situation to build trust

  • Tell the right story at the right time, so you can create a connection between the question and challenges of your audience and your story

  • Visualize your story to allow your audience to create an emotional connection that can impact their thinking

  • Use stories to present alternative scenarios and perspectives that your audience wouldn’t consider otherwise

To create a connection with your audience, consider specific elements of the story and how they interlink and form the overall picture. You can use a story to create an authentic message about your business that can become a part of your company culture and values.

How to create an authentic story:

  • Create a connection between the content and purpose – your story should have a clear objective that links back to the overall purpose of the communication

  • Focus on the senses – strong stories are about emotions, empathy and thoughts, so it’s important to choose situations with emotional impact and meaning. Facts don’t trigger imagination unless they are presented in an interesting context through stories or anecdotes

  • Involve the audience – people can relate to the story and the characters if you can trigger their interest. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the main character - your listeners can see the connection between themselves and critical aspects of your story

  • Open new perspectives – the element of surprise or new idea in the story has the potential to create a new level of understanding and make us think about new scenarios and alternatives

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