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The Art of Business Storytelling: A Vital Skill You Need to Master

Categories: Business Storytelling

What is your story questionLet’s delve a bit deeper into one of the most important presentations skills anyone can master -- one you definitely need in your presentation tool kit.

I’m talking about the art of storytelling, and business storytelling in particular.

Why is this such an important skill for business professionals to possess?

I’ll answer that question with another -- would you be surprised to hear that science shows human beings are hard-wired for storytelling?

Stories provide a phenomenal way of grabbing attention, keeping it, getting a point across, creating rapport with an audience, and best of all, ensuring that they will leave remembering your message.

When it comes to dynamic, effective and memorable speaking/presentations, storytelling is a must.

Long before humanity developed written language, our ancestors were passing along information and persuading others with stories around the fire at night. You could say it’s in our genes to process information and make decisions based on stories.

So, when it comes to delivering a presentation — whether you need to inform, persuade, inspire, or entertain — why not make use of this natural human disposition?

Here’s what happens when you tell a story: As soon as your listeners engage, they begin filling in details with their imaginations. In effect, this tendency allows them to co-create the story with you in a way that will never happen if you stick to dry facts or theories.

Once this aspect of co-creation happens, the story becomes what we call “sticky.” In other words, it will stick in listeners’ minds long after they have forgotten many of the “drier” details of your presentation. The part of your message that came encased in a story is what will stick.

Certain neuroscience technologies have conclusively determined that the parts of the brain associated with actually having an experience are engaged when someone is hearing about that experience.

Here are two fascinating examples:

  • By telling your audience members about the wind in your face as you race on a bike, the part of their brain that processes feeling on the skin activates.
  • By telling your listeners about the crowd noise at the starting line of a race, the part of their brain that processes hearing lights up.

Knowing this information, you can see why it’s valuable to be able to get across your message, your theory, your proposal, your benefits, and WIIFT (what’s in it for them?) in a juicy, compelling and memorable story.

You can see just why storytelling is so valuable to a speaker or presenter, and how it can make your presentation … and possibly your career.

Of course, simply listening to a story will not give anyone the experience of what you are talking about -- in the same way that reading a book about climbing Mount Everest cannot give you the experience of climbing it. However, it does the next best thing — it provides what scientists are calling a “near experience.”

The ability of stories to create this kind of near-reality experience is a powerful speaking tool. Luckily, storytelling is a phenomenally effective gift that some have naturally, and others can learn!

I’ll go deeper into the art of storytelling in my next blog post.

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