To assume is the most dangerous thing.
I keep slipping back into the assumption that for all of us involved in the world of work – whether in our own business or a career – we understand the importance of storytelling. How powerful it is to position what we have done, where we are going. To bring strength to the way we speak, pitch and present; and to sell in a way that has us standing out in a crowded marketplace and closing enough deals to move beyond just keeping the doors open and the wheels turning.
And yet we don’t. In the last six weeks I have been in my own workshops, running or at networking events, delivering in house training for major corporates, and mentoring start up and scale up businesses to punch through to the next level.
And I have noticed that we are still using logic and common sense to persuade people, thinking it will work, rather than storytelling. Even when the results we are getting are somewhat less – usually a lot less – than we expect.
We will default to ‘it’s the market’, or ‘they weren’t ready’, or ‘I keep losing them at the last minute’, or ‘I can’t seem to get ‘them’ to buy in’, or ‘I love speaking and I’m great at it’, yet I know you’re not getting re-booked, and you will push back on the people in your world who will tell you the truth.
It’s not them. It’s you.
You have yet to build the skills to stand out, to engage, to position why your vision is so great, to show how well you understand their world, to move from telling people what they should do, what makes sense, to sharing insights that build understanding and trust and a willingness to believe you.
You have yet to understand the one skill you can build to make a difference is storytelling.
And even if you have, I challenge you to think about how strong your storytelling skills are.
Because not all stories are created equal.
You need to shift from being a storyteller, to becoming a phenomenal story shaper – and there are five key elements to bring you closer to that.
1. If speaking and presenting, get crystal clear on the single message or gift to your audience. Crystal clear. If selling, understanding the pain points and the objections that your people may raise.
2. The stories must be shaped; they must first clearly call out the challenge/objection/the key message you have identified.
3. They must take your audience (whether to 1 or 1,000) on a journey. What has to be considered; the ‘wobbles’ in shifting through it, the thinking and insight as the hero(s) of the story shift through to a solution.
4. You must be able to speak to the solution or outcome, the result, in a way which tells the audience not only do I see you, not only can I hear you, but you can trust me to get you through to the other side.
5. The story must bring through the relevant points. Not every single detail will be relevant to what you are speaking to; ensure the points are on message, on target and on purpose and if not, move them out.
And whilst not all stories are created equal, no story is ever wasted.
The story that you may have built and shared with me may not suit the keynote, the presentation, or the sales conversation you are about to have – but they may be perfect as a case study; to share with your team to motivate them; to have as an article to be shared; or to create the foundation for a long-form social media post.