This is Part 2 of our feature on ‘Where you can use your business story’. Find steps 1-6 in Part 1 here.
7) Internal culture change
The single most difficult change to make in a business is the culture. You can implement away days, set up a task force, even move office, but culture just tends to stick. Stories can illustrate what is expected of staff as the business changes. They can be used to highlight the disruptive nature of bad habits and problems without finger pointing. Equally they can highlight a success in an all-inclusive way. But most importantly, stories can bring to life the values of the company and help everyone understand the vision.
How many presentations do you sit through each year? How many did you attend last month? How many of them can you recall? Not many if you are attending similar presentations to me. Another unmemorable 60 minutes pass that ends with someone politely requesting a copy of the deck that won’t be opened again, unless they plan to pilfer a slide or two from it for their own presentation. Keep your audience engaged and make your next presentation memorable by including a story or three.
9) New business meetings
Each time you present to a prospect you are trying to make a good impression. The question is will the client remember anything you told them after you have left the room? I’ve had the pleasure of sitting on both sides of the table as a supplier and as a client. As the client, the dullest part for me is when the elected leader tells me about the business. They explain how many staff they have, how they break down into accounts, geography… it drags on. Seldom does anyone tell me WHY the company exists. Which is a shame because I am much more likely to engage with a company that has a reason to be in the room.
Most press releases comprise of a pun headline, a list of stats and a quote from someone relatively senior sounding, who is desperate to sell something. Media organisations across the globe glance at these adverts dressed as news and delete them. Press releases still have their place but only if they provide the understaffed news agency with what they need: stories. So use the 5-step process and share a story that will enable the recipient to easily publish your message.
11) Shareholder meetings
As a leader, it makes sense to share information relating to business performance with a high level of clarity. Where the company was this time last quarter, where it is now and where you plan to take it next. Try enhancing the rational financial projections and analytical charts with the story behind the facts. One or two short stories that help stakeholders understand the context of the changing situations in business will go a long way to keeping them on your side.
12) Data storytelling
There are many tools available that can help visualise the zettabytes of data residing on servers around the globe. But the same fundamental problem exists with the presentation of big data as it does with any other factual presentation. You need to make that compelling insight come to life and the best way to achieve that is to use the 3 Acts framework to give your data context.
You might not think that a Friday night dinner party is the best place to tell your business story, but think again. You never know how some of those new people you’ve just met might be valuable in the future, who they might know, who they play golf with, where they might work. So as you get to know new people, find an alternative to the ‘what do you do?’ question – tell them a story!
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