In my upcoming book, The Power of Story, I highlight the three qualities of powerful storytelling that build connection. I will tease them out here because you are my community, and I’d welcome your reactions to this as I finalize the book this month and send it off to the editor! (screams with glee and terror)
When we lead with story, everything gets better: Our team and stakeholder engagement, revenue, and communities.
Leaders who want to make ideas happen have to get others on board with those ideas. We can’t operate in isolation. We need relationships built on trust and understanding. Often considered a “soft skill,” storytelling is essential for any modern-day leader.
Your stories don’t need to be epic dramas. They are handholds that start a conversation and give the receiver something to latch onto to discover and respond. People crave connection and purpose. Stories? They aren’t about stories. They are about connection.
Think of stories as an energy exchange. Good stories are:
The power of story is not the power of one over another. It’s a generative power that radiates and lifts everyone. It removes barriers and hierarchy between the teller and the listener.
Anchor your stories in context and paint a picture of reality.
You can use story to show instead of tell to manage your reputation. Story to make meaning of a lot of stuff and facts and data, and story to be transparent and address the elephant in the room: the questions you know are on people’s minds but are worried about talking about.
To be real is to be genuine, not imitation or artificial.
Look for this common symptom: Being too technical or using too much jargon. (and people wonder what just hit them.) This disconnect happens because innocently, you are so immersed in your work that you don’t even realize you’re speaking another language!
Ask yourself if you’d say this out loud in a social setting. Would people get it?
When visiting a foreign country, you’ll need a power converter to make your iron work properly. Likewise with storytelling, if you come in too hot with your message, you blow a fuse (and burn a hole in your favorite blouse – I’m speaking from experience). Come in too low, you lack any power to ignite anything, and your blouse remains a wrinkled mess.
To be relatable, we must match the energy to the power source.
People act on things they understand.
We can use stories to connect emotionally and create a deeper understanding of our work and why it matters. And we can use stories to meet people where they are by bringing the message within their frame of reference.
Common symptom: Overloading your message with too much stuff. This disconnect often happens in the review-by-committee process. (“But we also have to tell them about that other thing!”)
Ask yourself, what is the one key message I want them to walk away with?
What does the conversation need of me right now?
Real + Relatable2 (to the second power). The power of riveting is exponential because you have leveled up the concept to tell a bigger story rooted in purpose.
Show people what is possible. Riveting stories are engrossing and compelling because the world of possibility is irresistible.
Common symptom: Your frequency is off, and you’re talking about what you are excited about (like your 10th anniversary or your new website), and they couldn’t care less.
Don’t forget to ask yourself, so what? And why should they care?
Let’s get real, relatable, and riveting! So much goodness comes from it, like trust, alignment, and hope. My book comes out this spring, and it’s not too late to send me examples that came to mind as you read this or challenges and questions you face in your leadership journey.
I’d love to hear from you – comment here and send me a private message.
My book is due out this spring. If you’d like to be notified, sign up here.
Take care out there.
SOME WAYS I MAY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU AND YOUR TEAM:
LEAD YOUR WAY: This mentoring/coaching program is designed to help you step into your leadership and show up as your best self so you can communicate to connect and amplify your impact.
COMMUNICATE TO CONNECT: In my storytelling workshops, I teach leaders of all capabilities how to engage authentically with their teams, community, and stakeholders to create meaningful connections that build trust, increase team engagement and lead to better fundraising and revenue generation.
Did you have something else in mind? Let’s talk and see how I might be able to help. Contact me and we’ll schedule a chat.
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