Changing Culture and Improving Engagement With Story

By Dave Hickey

This picture tells a story.

Even when we don’t know the context, as with this image, our minds immediately create a narrative to frame this, so strong is our reliance on story as a way of understanding, engaging with and remembering what’s happening around us.

A Nielsen report for Q1 2020 found that Americans consume over 12 hours of media each day – through TV, social media, websites, podcasts, apps, radio or print. Europe and Asia can’t be significantly different.

The one thing that all these vehicles for content have in common is that they tell stories.

Stories capture and hold our attention, and with the attention economy only growing in size, storytelling is an essential messaging vehicle.

Stories tap into our innate curiosity for human behaviour. So when Bill Gates met Warren Buffett for the first time in 1991 and asked him what his favourite book was, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Buffett’s recommendation was a collection of stories.

That book was ‘Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street’ by John Brooks – a collection of stories about mid 20th century businesses from his column in The New Yorker.

Stories elicit emotion, and research has shown emotion embeds memories more deeply in our minds. If we want our message to stick, we must leverage psychology and elicit emotion in some way.

When we’re going through major changes in our businesses – from starting up to changing direction – we need to be effective communicators. That’s because we need our stakeholders – particularly colleagues and customers – to understand and commit to these changes if we’re going to be successful.

Using story as a key element of messaging is a proven way to get that engagement.

Kelly Swanson is a world-leader in storytelling as a means of effective communication. She will bring her insights to the audience at Leading At The Edge Online on 7th October. Attendees will also receive a free video of Kelly with some great content in advance of the conference and on the day, she will work with a few members of the virtual audience to help them craft their stories.

Book now for Leading At The Edge.