The Art of Storytelling
The art of storytelling is a vital business skill that should be mastered by anyone trying to become a successful executive. This may be a bold statement to start an article with, it is too a very defend-able and profound skill that has not gotten the attention it deserves. This article will first explain to you what the art of storytelling encompasses and will then highlight why this skill is so important to possess, and how to develop it.
Storytelling has many functions, it is entertaining, educational, strengthens culture, and instils moral values. It has been around for a very long time. Even before man had the possibility of writing down their knowledge, we transferred our knowledge via stories. And great minds in the Greek Empire loved to share stories to convey their philosophy (e.g. Homer and Plato).
In a good story, the message is embedded in the story. It lets the listener in on your way of seeing things and learn him a lesson without being pushy or too overwhelming. Storytelling combines information and emotion. In light of the 3rd alternative thinking, it lets the other person in on your way of thinking, to see your side of the truth. And when the story is personal, which it is most of the time, they get a glimpse of what motivates you. A main function of storytelling, therefore, is awareness, to get your message out there.
So why is this such a strong and vital skill to have? It is one that can differentiate you from the rest, to make you pop out. In the competitive workforce of today, most of the knowledge workers in your area of expertise have the same level of IQ, the same technical skills as you. You can differentiate by throwing in some EQ/EI or Emotional Intelligence. Not by working long hours, but by having many great stories to tell you can both enlighten people and make yourself a unique contributor to a company.
A place where this technique is actively encouraged is in the hotels and resorts of Steve Wynn. Here every morning before a shift starts, one of the employees shares a story. It allows a personal touch to be given to every employee and results in a great work spirit and self-esteem boost.
One other great aspect of storytelling is the transfer-ability. Technical skills of your job are mostly not applicable in daily life (although negotiation techniques may be applicable to managing toddlers). Storytelling is great for kids, family and friends alike, everyone loves a great storyteller.
To develop it you do not need extensive skills or a large training budget (although training can help), all you need is practice. Stories do not have to be a perfect replica of the ones that were told to you, it is about the message the story needs to convey that you need to be able to transfer. It is all about being authentic and putting your cards on the table. Storytelling gives you the ability to transform people, companies and your own life, so do not waste any time and start now!
References & Further Reading:
3. http://www.storytellingacademy.nl/ (Dutch)