The Power of a Good Story

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When you think about a story, what comes to mind? Perhaps an enjoyable summer read or maybe even a fable or fairytale. But a story doesn’t have to be confined to fiction. In fact, we tell stories every single day. How we see the past, how we envision the future – those are stories. How we convey a message, how we describe a product or service – those are stories as well. A pitch, a presentation, a plea — all stories. In fact, stories are a vital part of any business.

The power of storytelling can be very impactful in both a positive and negative way. Stories we tell ourselves about goals we can’t achieve because we’re not smart or educated enough, for example, can lead to limiting beliefs that hold us back. On the other hand, stories we tell within the office about overcoming challenges or how setbacks were turned into successes can lead to empowerment and a culture of innovation and calculated risks. That’s the power of a great story.

Connect with the power of storytelling

Stories are one of the most powerful tools you can use to engage and connect with your audience. The power of a single story goes far beyond simply relaying facts and data and can be a highly effective tool to create customer loyalty. Stories emotionalize information. They give color and depth to otherwise bland material and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way. Those potential customers can then connect with your product, service and your entire business in a way that will make you talkably different.

Yet not all stories are equal. Simply telling a story that may elicit some emotion does not guarantee its efficacy. Tony sat down with his dear friend Peter Guber, the Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, whose films have earned over $3 billion worldwide and 50 Academy Award nominations, to discuss the power of a great story and its ability to shape the lives of others. Here’s what Peter had to say:

Connect to emotion

So how do you harness the power of storytelling? First, it’s about finding that emotional core of your message. As Peter says, emotion combined with information becomes memorable and actionable. Confused by what that means? Think about it. Where were you on 9/11? Chances are that you can remember exactly where you were when you learned about the tragic events that transpired that day. But if you had to think where you were the day before that – that memory is probably hazier. Information attached to pain or pleasure creates an emotional connection that resonates within you — this is at the heart of the power of a great story.

Be authentic

The next step in utilizing the power of storytelling is remaining authentic. People have a sensitive radar when it comes to those trying to manipulate or take advantage of a situation and no one wants to feel they are not in charge of their own emotions. In fact, rather than focusing on what you want to get out of telling the story, you must shift your focus to how you are going to serve your audience. It’s a pure intention where you are truly focused on improving or enhancing their lives. As Tony often says, the secret to living is giving. When you use the power of a great story to empower others, you create a solid brand for your company based on value. Once you’ve established this, it’s easy to convert more customers into raving fans and achieve huge growth.

Peter goes on to give this advice:

“Be interested, not interesting, or else the audience will never take it in.”

Keeping in mind that the power of storytelling is not a monologue but a dialogue helps you give your audience proprietorship. They become emotional owners of the story you are telling. Then they become advocates — of your product, your service, your business, your brand. But you can’t get there unless you have a generous goal and listen deeply. Remember, you must focus on sharing — not selling — or your customers will tune out.

Know when to stop

Lastly, you must know when to move on. Don’t just fire information at an audience if the environment isn’t right. Assess the situation and see if the time is right for the power of a single story and the message it will convey. That may mean you will have to find a way to change your audience’s state before you can share the power of a great story — or it might mean you have to hold off altogether. If your audience is not in a prime state to listen to your story, then it’ll fall flat and fail to resonate within them.

Sometimes the way to get through to an audience is not to start off by sharing a story – no matter how powerful it may be. In some circumstances, you need to first listen to get to know your audience better and form a connection. Once you understand what they truly need, you can craft your story to meet that need. Don’t think the power of storytelling will get you off the hook in the listening department, however — you need to recognize moments of opportunity where you can keep your mouth shut and your ears open to learn about your customers’ stories and how you can best serve them, too.

Using the power of storytelling

How do you share your story with those who need and want to hear it? You don’t have to be a public speaker to utilize the power of a great story. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate storytelling into your messaging.

Use the power of storytelling on social media

You can tell impactful stories through social media and reach hundreds or even thousands of followers. Your stories can be in written form, such as sharing the link to a blog you recently wrote, or you can put videos on your social media channels that tell impactful stories. Remember that social media is all about giving value to your followers and that every story you tell needs to inform, entertain or impact them in some meaningful way.

Tell a great story during sales meetings or presentations

Sometimes a good sales script is all you need to positively impact a prospect and convert them into a valued client. There are other times when the power of a great story can push them over the edge and convince them that they need to do business with you. Though you shouldn’t bog down your meetings with meaningless anecdotes or rambling tales, the power of a single story that resonates with your client cannot be overlooked.

Use storytelling with your employees

How do you get your team fired up and excited about your company’s mission and core values? Depending on their role, they might not get to see how all their hard work impacts your clients or the community. Use the power of storytelling to relate recent wins you’ve experienced to them and how your business is making a difference. This reinforces that their work has meaning and they’ll likely work even harder to serve your clients.

The power of story is the most important tool in your arsenal

If done well and done correctly, the power of a great story can have a massive effect on the audience and define you as an influencer. It can inspire, enliven and create instant rapport. It can move an audience to take action and it can change lives. Never underestimate the power of storytelling and never underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Play it truthfully and emotionally, create a dialogue and you will see how the power of story may just become the most important tool in your arsenal.

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