Stories Make a Difference – Expert’s 6 Points for Great Storytelling

“Stories create connections that are emotional and inspiring.”

That’s what Kristian Aloma reminded an audience of marketers at a recent MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group) event in New Jersey.

Kristian Aloma. Credit: Brandtrust.

Kristian Aloma. Credit: Brandtrust.

Mr. Aloma is the Client Partner, Group Director of Client Service at Brandtrust. “He’s been pivotal in building Brandtrust’s storytelling services and training sessions, which are extremely popular among clients looking to more effectively influence their customers and organizations.”

An important reason for business communicators to use stories is that “presenting a story helps everyone understand the same point.”

In his New Jersey presentation, Aloma offered “how to” pointers and demonstration examples for telling effective stories in the business world and beyond. He also challenged the group by stating that the “best storytellers win.”

6 Points for Great Storytelling

  1. Follow a blueprint for constructing a story: goal, tension, opportunity, action.
  2. Transport people [your audience] into the story, where they can be influenced and/or are more likely to be influenced.
  3. Make the customer the hero of your story. Or craft the story so they can see themselves as the hero.
  4. Bring data to life. Stories help people make sense of data.
  5. Include stories that are relevant to the audience: What? So What? Now what?
  6. Encourage action. The right story with the right data makes people act.

Aloma shared a number of examples. For instance:

  • HGTV. Many of the popular network’s shows have simple formulas that are followed in every episode. “The stories are the same [characters are different], but people love it.”
  • Presenting Data. The next time you or a colleague have to present a data intensive topic, watch this Hans Roling video first. It’s a brilliant example of how to make data come alive.
  • Emotion Connects. Consider the terrific and emotional P&G “Thank You Mom” Olympics marketing campaign. You may remember the ad from the 2012 London Olympics. Here’s the spot from this summer’s Rio games.

Renowned storytelling teacher Robert McKee “believes that executives can engage listeners on a whole new level if they toss their PowerPoint slides and learn to tell good stories instead.”

McKee explained in a Harvard Business Review interview:

“The other way [other than conventional rhetoric] to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story.”

Keep some PowerPoint slides. They’re fine if used properly. At the same time, inject a story or paint a vision if you can.

By the way, do you know what happened to the marketing director whose presentation was bumped to 5 pm on the last day of a three-day sales conference? You can ask me about that story.

Harvey Chimoff is a versatile marketing and business team leader who believes good marketing sells. Contact him at StratGo Marketing, a “nuts and bolts” strategic marketing resource.

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