Posted by Regina Woods on Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 06:00
Storytelling skills are increasingly critical for company leaders. Here's why.
Imagine this scenario: You’ve just been asked to share the story of the Three Little Pigs with your employees. Yes, you read correctly … the fable about that huffy-puffy, big, bad wolf we all remember from childhood. However, instead of simply telling the tale, you’ve been tasked with creating a PowerPoint presentation that highlights the pigs’ adventures.
Considering the assignment at hand, what would you include in your presentation? How would you structure your slides? What would be the important bullet points to list? Would a graph or chart help you communicate the message?
At this point you’re most likely asking yourself, “Why on earth would I create a presentation instead of simply telling the story?”
Unfortunately, many of today’s organizational leaders over-engineer their communication approach in exactly the way I just described. For example, when it comes to sharing the vision for the firm’s future, or inspiring others to take action, many managers default to the predictable PowerPoint presentation or unengaging conference call dialogue. These standard approaches can hinder leaders from tapping into emotion and establishing the foundational trust needed to build high-performing teams.
Leadership communication is about inspiring others to take action. It’s about sharing personal or professional stories that teach critical lessons and provide much-needed clarity in today’s complex and ever-changing business landscape. Storytelling gives leaders the opportunity to transition from simply presenting information, to effectively influencing and persuading others. If done correctly, storytelling weaves together the logical and emotional components of communication. Furthermore, stories move people and create connections.
As you prepare for your next meeting, try incorporating a two- to three-minute story that inspires your employees to think, feel or do something differently as a result of hearing it. Perhaps you have a story about overcoming a challenging time in your career that can teach a valuable lesson about the importance of perseverance, adaptability or empathy.
Whatever your story is, share it! At the end of the day, people don’t want to be sold; they want to be inspired. They want to connect with others on a human level. Storytelling will help you do just that.
How have you sharpened your storytelling skills? Share your tips in a comment below.
Regina Woods leads an Enterprise Leadership Development team for Robert Half. Woods applies her organizational leadership expertise to strategically develop, design and deliver leadership programs that help leaders grow themselves, develop their teams and elevate their business. Her day-to-day responsibilities include partnering with global executives to determine development needs, program management and facilitation, leading group instructor-led sessions, as well as one-on-one leadership coaching.