Danny, an actor, award-winning filmmaker and best-selling author, led a storytelling masterclass at Clear Europe on June 10th. He talked to the nearly 30 participants about how storytelling isn’t just used to teach lessons to children and to inform friends and family about our travels. Storytelling also has an important role in the work environment, as stories are often the best way to pass on a company or organisation’s values to customers, clients and employees.
Telling personal stories allows others to relate to us on an emotional level. Once we are in a business setting, however, suddenly we feel we have to be boring to be taken seriously. In business, we are often trying to communicate success and change in the form of hard data. The problem with this, Danny warned, is it is hard for people to remember data and messages sometimes get buried in a mound of facts and statistics.
To make our stories more vivid, Danny gave the following tips:
- Know the reason for telling the story
- Paint a picture with words, using detail and avoiding generalisations
- Show what is at stake
- Include emotions and feelings
- Use colourful, not corporate, language
Businesses – and organisations like the EU – have a tendency to favour vague language and descriptions such as “great customer service” or “fairness to all.” Danny presented the participants with a ladder of abstraction, where the higher the rung on the ladder the more abstract the idea. The best communication happens close to the bottom of the ladder, where things are the most concrete.
Danny also equipped participants with several story archetypes that work well in business settings. These included stories that emphasise the size of a challenge (the challenge plot) or the difference before and after a new innovation or way of doing something (the creativity plot). Stories can be used to caution people on how things shouldn’t be done or to link two seemingly different viewpoints. Finally, they can be about people who inspired you or taught important life lessons.
Clear Europe offers coaching on “The Business of Storytelling” with Danny Schienmann. There’s more about this and our other courses here.