Why Narrative Works
Communicating through stories is fashionable today. But what exactly is a narrative, and why should we be telling more stories in business? Here are 4 reasons why storytelling delivers an impact.
Rule 1: Facts alone aren’t enough. Stories give context.
A narrative is a distinct communications framework. It follows a traditional plotline, which is the communications flow of famous movies like Jaws, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. A narrative creates a context, conflict and resolution. It’s likely not the pattern of most business presentations. They tend to toggle between feature and benefit. The messages may advance, but a story never unfolds.
Rule 2: People want a guide. Stories show the way.
So, how does a narrative approach work for business? When it comes to any solution, especially a complex one, people are looking for a guide to making the right decision. Sure, there are some core requirements, but people are searching primarily for a way to change their current fate.
A narrative brings your message to life. It shows what it looks like if someone were to adopt your solution. It reveals the path and the finish line. In that sense, a plotline is like a strategic plan.
Rule 3: Information just informs. Stories spur action.
Decisions rest on information and emotions. Storytelling puts these together. We jump into the plot and journey vicariously through the storyline. We feel the emotional satisfaction of the resolution and become more confident with moving ahead on action.
Rule 4. People are forgetful. Stories are easily remembered.
People struggle to remember data, but they can easily remember stories. A narrative has a recognizable format, a built-in structure that’s easy to connect with. It makes your message more relatable and repeatable. It stays with your prospect. And that’s important given the marathon pace of most sales cycles.
Narrative is a strategic communications discipline that everyone must adopt. For businesses, it provides an easier way to package and deliver – getting the message right every time. It distills your message to its essence. It provides a credibility test; people can tell when a plot is forced. And it encourages you to become a storyteller, which helps you master the message.
What stories should you tell? Primarily, you should tell stories about your customers and prospects. They can see that you understand where they are, what why want and show how you can help them get there. You should also tell stories of your company. What challenges you’ve overcome. How you’ve achieved success.
Whatever story you tell, the goal is to create a clear, succinct narrative that’s simple to understand and easy to share. If you do this, people will respond positively. In fact, they might just stand up and applaud.