Once upon a time, there was a manager full of great ideas, but unable to present them without putting his audience to sleep or without making his employers shake their heads.
Forcing his hand a little, the protagonist of this “story” experiences a situation that is not too unusual in the company, in internal meetings or in meetings between suppliers and customers: what we communicate, not always in form, manages to involve and retain audience attention. With the consequence that, even excellent content, he can be penalized by a boring dress.
Where does our failed hero go wrong?
Maybe in the way, he shapes his communication. What he lacks is a flow, it is a structure of speech that keeps the interlocutors glued.
A creative ploy, called storytelling: a setting widely used in the field of marketing and advertising, useful for narrating without boring, for communicating incisively and for convincing others of the validity of an idea.
A phenomenon that dominates creative and persuasive communication.
Why not adopt it at work too?
Emotional stories overcome the barriers of attention
When you listen to a presentation done in a traditional way, with descriptions and arguments, at the end of the speech you will remember very little.
two to seven pieces of information are kept in memory at the same time – say the communication experts – and if people are already lost in their thoughts, the entire speech will keep just a couple of passages.
The narrative form typical of storytelling, however, facilitates memory and keeps attention, generating expectations for the finale. The stories propose recurring patterns and variations on the theme (as the studies on myths conducted by the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss teach us) and move deep emotions, in the alternation of climax and moments of relaxation. So the public listens, likes, does not forget.
A hero, an adventure and a happy ending: fairytale meets business
If you think storytelling is a fairytale approach not suited to the cold business world, you are wrong.
Storytelling, on the other hand, can be a very effective weapon to tell, for example, the development and launch of a product, drawing inspiration from the famous functions of Propp.
We’ve all studied them: the hero, the antagonist, the “magic helpers”, the obstacles to overcome, the challenge, the victory and the final reward.
In a presentation the hero can be a product or service venturing into the market or the team of people facing the challenge of designing, promoting, marketing it. While the antagonist can be the change in the market or the entry of a competitor.
It’s up to you to guide the audience to a happy ending.
Satisfy the public’s tastes with a personalized approach
Would you like to hear a cold list of functional features and benefits or how a new product can solve a critical situation? The answer would seem obvious, but beware: storytelling may not always be a good idea.
A survey conducted on ten thousand managers by the expert in business dynamics Mark Murphy – author of bestselling essays and founder of Leadership IQ – showed that for 55% of people the stories are more persuasive than data and facts, while 45% think the opposite.
And this substantial minority must be taken into consideration.
Without considering that storytelling breaks through the hearts of a certain category of professionals – who tend to be active in the marketing, sales and human resources areas – while it pushes away those who prefer numbers and objectivity – and almost always deals with finance, information technology and operations.
Rather than throwing yourself into storytelling indiscriminately or giving up a priori, therefore, adopt a personalized approach: the ideal setting varies according to who you are in front of.
A trick to understand which style to adopt? Begin with a simple question: “What would you like to know from me today, more than anything else?”. From the answer, you can deduce if your audience is hungry for numbers and explanations or, instead, inclined to hear something unexpected.
Prepare an alternative, it can always be useful
Storytelling or classic presentation?
If you don’t know the expectations of the audience, in order not to make a mistake prepare a “plan B” in advance, useful in the event of having to correct the shot in the face of signs of inattention or boredom. And keep in mind Murphy’s wise advice: “In the business world,” suggests the expert, “if the only person who prefers the data is the one who can sign the check, then it doesn’t matter at all that everyone else loves it. stories “.
The choice is yours then!