One of the most common questions I get is,”I want to use more stories in business. But I don’t think I’m getting the benefits of storytelling that everyone talks about.
In these times we are especially challenged to find stories. Some of the best stories get told at social gatherings. Those one-to-one informal conversations at bars and coffee shops can be a gold mine.
Here are 3 way to boost your storytelling skills. They’re easy. They’ve worked for many of my clients. Best of all, they’re enjoyable.
Keep a story journal.
I know: if we followed all the tips to keep journals, we’d have a stack of 20 journals for gratitude, life experiences, business ideas and more.
This will be a simpler journal. As you hear stories on a webinar, or get a story in your inbox, make a note in a file. Don’t just save the “good” ones: save those that stand out as exceptionally good or exceptionally cringeworthy. Over time you’ll start to notice patterns. You’ll notice what kinds of stories you get from different people…and who never tells a story but still holds your interest.
Collect stories when you work with clients.
Whether you’re doing research or getting to know a new client, ask them to answer your questions in the form of a story.
A client says, “I need help with my finances.” You could go on to ask what kind of help help they need and what are their pain points. Or you can say, “Give me an example of how that’s happening.”
You might get a story like, “I can’t seem to save any money. It goes back to when I started working and never had to make a budget…”
Or it might be more like, “Growing up we never had enough money. So I spend money as fast as I earn it, because I don’t feel comfortable with my self as wealthy.”
Finally, look for stories outside your business – in your personal and family life.
Recently I talked to a former colleague I hadn’t seen in years, back when we were both college professors. He had stories about moving to a new country after getting a too-good-to-be true offer, getting married after many years of being single, and losing a much-loved friend to a freak accident.
These stories weren’t about business, but they had structure and captured emotion. I can use some of what I learned to gind stories for my business and for the clients I help.
I got a lot of ideas from a short report, Writing Life Histories, by Dennis Becker. He covers interviewing techniques, writing up stories and even turning your family history into a marketable product.
And a lot of people ask me about storytelling for business. Download this free guide here.