Are You Storytelling Yet?

Chapter 1 - Is Storytelling fact or fiction?

To what extent is story or storytelling currently used in events, meetings or conferences in your business? 

I don’t believe storytelling is used widely at all. There is a tendency to show and tell. With that I mean that the presenter or speaker always has something to sell, usually their product or services and therefore they have an agenda. You can’t blame them as this is how presenting is mostly done. When I create Whiteboard Animation videos for my clients, I have to coach them regularly to stop selling and instead ‘Share a Story’. Here is a fun video I created to explain this message in memorable way, hopefully!

How can a story or storytelling create or enhance the effectiveness of business messages and an audience’s perception of leadership from a speaker?

We all love stories, we learnt about stories when we were very very little and it filled our imagination with all sorts of wondrous images. When we grow older we still love stories, we read books, we watch films, we watch TV, we watch the adverts. When we read books we have to fill our brain with images to make sense of the storyline, as otherwise we wouldn’t remember it. When we ‘Share a Story’, it is so much more memorable. When we ‘Share a Story’ it enhances our memory of it, because we make an emotional attachment to it.

Chapter 2 - The benefits of Storytelling

What are the benefits and challenges of using storytelling more and how does technology play a role in this? 

The benefits are very significant. If we are teaching or presenting and we wish our audience to remember what we have said or spoken about, just presenting facts just does not cut it. In fact it is a well known researched fact that we forget 80-90% of what we have heard within hours of leaving a meeting, an event or conference. Check out the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

The challenge is we live in a world where we are all being bombarded by advertising messages everywhere we look, it’s getting so much tougher to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. And worse still actually get remembered.

Technology plays a massive part in this. I don’t care what anyone says, we are predominantly visual learners. That means anything visual, images and video is where you can grab someone’s attention. Of course video for me is where it’s at, but not just talking head, animation is going to continue to grow exponentially, so you’d better be doing some.

The objective is just about being more memorable and not forgettable. Most brands are forgettable although they spend millions getting into our minds on a macro level. It’s not surprising that brands are using animals in their ads to evoke an emotional response from us. I call this the ‘Awww Factor’. When we have an emotional response to something we see or experience it will be memorable for longer. Equally the animal in the ad will be memorable and it delivers a hook to the product. 

Watch this video where I explain this concept.

Chapter 3 - The barriers to Storytelling

What do you consider to be the key hinderances that stop people (speakers and presenters) from using story and storytelling methods more? 

Because they can’t think of any and are stuck in a paradigm of using sales speak, Powerpoint Presentation (‘Death by PowerPoint’) methods and their desire to prove to the listening audience that they are credible and important, have a lot of knowledge and wish to impress. Because if they impress, the listener will ‘buy them’. Trouble is the content and the presenter will be forgettable.

The best example of great Storytelling and presenting I can think of are TED talks. The presenters in the main are sharing stories, that’s why TED has been so successful.

Watch this great Ted Talk by film maker Andrew Stanton of Toy Story and WALL-E fame, who shares some clues to a great story.

What can you do to make your messages be more meaningful and memorable for your audience’s ear? 

If it was made compulsory for speakers at meetings, events and conferences to only be allowed to share a story, then they would.

Guidelines could be issued to any speaker to detail how they could make their presentation more engaging by sharing stories.

Here’s another great video that explains brilliantly why stories need to be told instead of presenting bullet point lists.

The video maker has the following description under the video:

A list is great at stating raw information, but raw information alone never changed anyone. Robots love raw information, but humans respond to stories. You know, information that’s wrapped in something they can understand and that has meaning.

So, when you need to explain what your something does, be careful that you’re not just making a list of the features. Give your audience something to believe in. Give them something to care about. Give them a story.

Chapter 4 - The science behind Storytelling

So do you actually know what takes place in your brain when you hear a story?

Let’s compare these 2 short paragraphs and you decide which one is more memorable?

‘Using my smart phone  makes me more efficient and allows me to get back in touch with my colleagues, family and friends in a way I have never been able to do before’.

‘Last week, I was travelling in Europe away from the office and my young family. I have a 2 year-old daughter who misses me when I’m away. Anyway, the scenery was great and I was in the middle of some gorgeous snow peaked mountains. Obviously I was working!I managed to have a good signal on my smart phone and was able to easily get back in touch with my colleagues, family and friends. I love it that modern technology allows me to do this in a way I have never been able to do before.

You may wish to think about the images that appeared in your brain for the 2 different stories.

Here’s a handy infographic that explains in a bit more detail what happens in your brain when you listen to stories.

Do you think it's time for you to start 'Sharing Your Story'? Discuss...