What if the next big thing in the boardroom comes from something that has been around for millennia? Deon Newbronner, managing director of Pitch Perfect Club explains
Since the first cave paintings were discovered over 20,000 years ago, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental methods of communication. We use stories to communicate or entertain other people and when we tell a story well it can help us create a personal connection with those around us. A good story can also change our opinions, inspire us and encourage us to change behaviours.
Effective engagement and persuasion are at the heart of every business operation. Customers must be convinced to buy your company’s products or services; employees and colleagues need to be encouraged to adopt a new strategic plan and investors to sign the next deal. No matter who you’re dealing with, effective communication has a huge impact on your business. Data and PowerPoint presentations can help you inform your stakeholders about your businesses operations and key statistics but it doesn’t inspire them to forge an emotional connection with you or encourage them to take action.
Scientific research has revealed that storytelling evokes a strong neurological response. Our brains produce the stress hormone cortisol during the tense moments of a story which helps us concentrate, while the happy and emotive parts cause our brain to release oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that helps us to empathise and makes us connect with other people. In addition, cognitive psychology has found that the human mind assembles information into a story in order to understand and remember while it tends to forget lists and bullet points.
Still can’t see why storytelling is relevant to your business? To put it quite bluntly, no one cares about your marketing goals or business plan but everyone likes a good story.
Take a look at the rise of crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and how people use it to get the support they need. It’s because Kickstarter doesn’t just allow stories to be shared, it requires them. Every project must be accompanied by a video of the creators explaining what they are doing, why they are doing it and why people should support them. Business stories certainly do differ from regular stories in terms of the content in terms of the messages – what is said. However, we all tell stories with an objective, goal or desired outcome in mind. Whether such an outcome is for entertainment for regular stories, for business stories or to inspire your team or grow your business, ultimately the techniques are the same and tap into the same parts of the human brain. Perhaps the biggest advantage of storytelling and its use in business is how versatile it can be and how it can be applied across every business interaction. It isn’t just a sales tool to attract customers’ attention. Businesses can use stories to connect employees to one another and to management and to empower them to innovate and can use them to communicate leadership changes and encourage creative, strategic thinking.
Storytelling may seem like an old-fashioned tool to use these days – and it is – but that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. Everything is a story; it is part of our everyday lives and everyone can relate to it regardless of their likes, dislikes or backgrounds. Storytelling is not just another business fad and, when adopted in a meaningful and honest way, is a vital ingredient, contributing to long term success.
Deon Newbronner is managing director of Pitch Perfect Club, the company behind ThinkB!G.