As a leader, your ability to weave a narrative that not only informs but also inspires can be the difference between a team that is simply functional and one that is genuinely transformative. The art of storytelling isn’t just about entertainment; it’s a strategic tool that can illuminate goals, illustrate challenges, and galvanize a workforce, because great leaders are great storytellers.
The bestselling author of Immersion: The Science of the Extraordinary and the Source of Happiness, Dr. Paul Zak, researched the neurological effects of storytelling. It revealed that stories can synchronize the listener’s brain with the teller’s story, creating a deep, immersive experience. This immersion, or ‘narrative transportation’, happens when the story is structured so that it captures the audience’s attention and holds it, leading to a shared emotional journey.
STORY CREATES CONNECTION
When it comes to communicating with others, most speakers, leaders, teachers, and coaches are striving for perfection in their message when what they should be worried about is connection because people respond based on emotion.
Stories are simply more effective and durable in conveying information and truth. I have observed time and time again that people absorb information better and retain it longer when they can form and then recall that mental picture. People will quickly forget how some information made them think but will remember how a story made them feel.
Stories are viral. Stories are easy to remember and repeat. The good ones get repeated a lot. The fact is most of us don’t walk around with PowerPoint presentations. What we do walk around with are stories.
Stories stimulate a response and action. The thinking process serves the role of sorting and weighing information, experiences, and consequences, but what propels all that thinking into action is how we feel.
RELIVING A STORY
According to IMS educator Ty Bennett, renowned author of the acclaimed book The Power of Storytelling: The Art of Influential Communication, retelling a story is not enough. It is about reliving the story immersing oneself in its essence. The key to achieving this lies in captivating the audience and bringing them into the very heart of the narrative. How can this be done? Well, there are three powerful methods to accomplish this:
- Place Them in The Scene: Transport your listeners to the vivid and captivating environment of your story. Paint a picture with your words, allowing them to see, hear, and feel the surroundings as the characters do. Let them experience the story alongside you, creating a sense of shared presence and immersion.
- Create Curiosity: Engage the curiosity of your audience by leaving them intrigued and eager to learn more. Offer breadcrumbs of information that pique their interest and make them wonder what will happen next. Encourage them to stay engaged and follow the story through its twists and turns, keeping them on the edge of their seats.
- Reinforce Relatability: Connect with your audience on a personal level by highlighting the relatable aspects of the story. Emphasize characters, situations, or emotions that resonate with their own experiences. By making your story relatable, you forge deeper connections, allowing your listeners to connect their own lives to the story’s narrative, creating a profound and lasting impact.
Leadership requires a deep understanding of the science and art of storytelling. This knowledge is invaluable for improving organizational performance, as it equips you with the tools to inspire and motivate your team through captivating stories. By mastering these storytelling techniques, you can create an environment where everyone works together towards success, united by a belief in the journey you lead. Remember, all great leaders are great storytellers, so start sharing your motivating stories today and watch as you engage your team through the immersive power of stories.
For more storytelling tips and techniques, listen to my interview with Ty Bennett, ‘The Power of Storytelling.” Also, check out one of my previous articles on how Powerful Storytelling is a Leader’s Secret Weapon.
ABOUT CHARLES GOOD
Charles Good is the president of The Institute for Management Studies, which provides transformational learning experiences that drive behavioral change and develop exceptional leaders. Charles is an innovative and resourceful leader who specializes in bringing people together to develop creative organizational and talent strategies that enable business results. His areas of expertise include assessing organizational skill gaps and leading the design, creation and delivery of high impact, innovative learning solutions that achieve business goals.