An independent content strategist, writer, and host of The Storytelling Companion podcast, Chris Thiede jumped out of his comfort zone and led a virtual On the Menu session on Storytelling.
Storytelling, in this case, doesn’t mean bedtime books or mystery novels. People remember what has happened throughout history by the stories that have been told to them. Stories are best remembered when the teller is passionate and descriptive about their characters, experiences and emotions. Storytelling is a multifaceted technique that can improve presentation and communication skills through person to person, on virtual platforms, through a business website, or over social media.
When thinking about it from a business lens, storytelling can be defined as how one chooses to communicate with their audience, whether they be customers, stakeholders or the general community. For example, in one episode of Chris’s podcast, he had spoken to a woman whose job is to help medical students identify patient symptoms. She taught the students by stepping into the role of a patient and acted out different situations and symptoms in a realistic way.
After sharing examples, Chris shared his 5 rules for storytelling (and like any good storyteller, he saved the best for last for dramatic effect).
1: Know your purpose
What need are you filling for your customer or client? For example: You are a lawyer presenting information to a jury. To “win” you must understand that you have to keep them engaged while integrating facts and testimonies.
2: Be Real
This one is pretty simple: Be sincere in your presentation, and always be your authentic self (both in person and with your branding).
For example, Habitat for Humanity uses honest stories from volunteers and how they have impacted someone’s life to promote their both work and volunteer opportunities.
3: Embrace Emotions
Consider and convey emotions to your audience. Think about how your target audience would feel using your services, and let them know that you understand. Lead with empathy.
It is not just one story that gains a client or wins in the end; you must built up a presence over time, just as with any relationship. If you have an audiovisual company that stays active on social media, then in addition to using the platform to showcase new projects, you might consider incorporating employee highlight videos so your potential customers can get to know the people behind the brand.
5: Understand your audience
This is the most important step: get to know your customers. Learning details about their lifestyles, spending habits, and hobbies can help you further relate to your target market.
If your company provides yoga lessons for new moms, you should highlight the daycare center next door as an added benefit and convenience. This is shows your customers that you understand that they have needs to be filled outside of those served by your business alone, and make it an easy choice for them to pick your service over others.