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“Those who tell the stories rule the world”

Once upon a time, as the Hopi American Indian proverb goes...

...or was it Plato? It’s attributed to both so either way it’s clearly worth a listen...

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

Humans have been recounting tales since time began. Cave paintings dating to ca. 30,000 years ago provide some of the earliest recorded evidence of storytelling, and our history is littered with prominent figures from Aesop to Dickens, who made names for themselves as masters of this art.

WHY HAVE STORYTELLERS BECOME SO PROMINENT?

Storytelling is a powerful tool and the ability to harness this power has come to be viewed as synonymous with great leadership.

But I’m no Shakespeare..

Don’t worry! The good news is, you don't need to be Chaucer, Shakespeare or JK Rowling to deliver impact this way. Several individuals and organisations offer training in the use of artful narrative to generate great business leadership and improve business performance.

WHY TELL STORIES IN BUSINESS?

Storytelling is a fantastic communication tool.

From the days of palaeolithic cave artists, to the greatest storytellers to grace the modern day business world, storytelling has been used throughout the ages as a highly effective way to encourage audiences not just to hear, but to listen, understand, remember and act.

Which can you recall most readily, a bullet point list you wrote for your A-Level revision or your favourite childhood storybook?

According to Robert McKee, storytelling guru and mentor to the likes of Peter Jackson, stories are how our minds absorb, sort and structure reality. Interesting stories (when delivered effectively!) also spark emotion and facilitate buy-in. The human presence and subjectivity that they introduce is impossible to convey through facts and figures.

It’s this emotional engagement that is key to motivating action.

STRATEGIC STORYTELLING...

Given its power to engage listeners and drive comprehension, retention and action, it's hardly surprising that storytelling is heralded as a valuable tool for addressing strategic business challenges, whether these are to communicate identity, reconcile conflicting values or build culture. Microsoft, for instance, employs an in-house “chief storyteller” to communicate the company’s narratives, while Procter & Gamble immerses employees in physical narrative spaces.

HOW SHOULD WE TELL OUR STORIES?

Narrative patterns should vary depending on specific business goals but, according to McKee, all effective stories share a common theme:

Obstacles aren't concealed but addressed head on and positioned in the foreground. 

If we think of this in terms of the storybook analogy, this emphasises the hero’s triumph over antagonists and the ultimate restoration of balance. Every listener can relate to, and therefore work within, this framework because it's the inherent way we manage otherwise daunting impediment and adversity.

As a result, recounting a struggle to prevail inspires listeners and aligns stakeholders at all levels to the strategic imperative of the business.

INSPIRED TO FIND YOUR OWN STORYTELLERS?!

FreshMinds focus on managing a network of individuals with a consulting skill set. This means they are highly analytical and commercial, but it’s also key that they are great communicators – adept at harnessing techniques such as storytelling to create and engagingly relay messaging and ideas through their own rich narratives.

Give us a call or drop us an email if you’d like to find out more.