Communicating and connecting are essential skills if you want to be a successful leader, yet the bulk of leaders in today’s workforce have under-developed presentation and communication skills. An inadequate understanding of how to effectively communicate can reduce a leader’s organizational impact.
Science tells us that our brains are designed to learn and retain information through pictures, so it’s apparent that storytelling should be integrated into our communication strategies. Storytelling can be used to empower, delegate, team-build, and present ideas on a larger scale. It’s time to get creative and employ a heavy-hitting skill that can make an enormous impact on your team.
Tip #1 - Cast Your Vision
Help your team grasp your vision, or an upcoming change by using an easy-to-use 3-step storytelling script: Start by stating the current situation, then paint a picture of the action steps required to produce the desired change, end with the happily-ever-after fairy tale results you expect to achieve by gaining your team’s support. This approach works well in meetings, conversations, employ reviews, and other presentations.
Tip #2 - Engage Feelings
Stories get their power from feelings and emotions. Without those two elements, stories are purely a vehicle for sharing information, and data. Invite your audience on a journey from misery to happiness, scarcity to abundance, or triviality to significance to create a total mind/emotion experience. Engaging heartstrings will demonstrate the necessity for the desired changes.
Tip #3 - Pull Your Story from the Audience
Ask great questions and get your audience involved in the process. Discern where your team is, where they want to be, and brainstorm ideas for creating a path to change. Well-crafted conversational stories can bring alignment by valuing everyone’s opinion and input. People feel more devoted to a plan they played a part in designing.
"People do not follow the best leaders. They follow the ones they can understand the easiest" – Donald Miller
Tip #4 - Contrasting Creates Power
Contrasting storylines can be powerful when it comes to bringing out-of-balance teams back into alignment. Define the current situation, share the desired results, then employ the middle part of the story to chart a course from Point A to Point B. Change comes more easily when teams have a clear vision of their current position and their final destination.
Tip #5 - Define Your “Who”
Many leaders make a fatal mistake at this part of the storytelling process. The leader should never cast himself as the main character in the storyline. The leader’s key objective should be to guide the main character, your ‘who’, from desolation to prosperity as described at the end of the story. Adopting a servant-leadership style will reinforce the leader’s position with the team.
The key improving is applying what you've learned and taking consistent action
Perfecting these five storytelling competencies will increase a leader’s ability to develop growth and be a person that team members will want to follow. Connecting with your team through the power of storytelling will elevate your communications skills, and help you become a better leader.
Knowing is not enough, you must take action to perfect storytelling strategies. There are endless opportunities to practice this skill daily, but to get good at it, you must take intentional action. Take your first step by visualizing everything in the following terms: beginning (negative situation), middle (action steps), and end (positive outcome). As you hone in on the skill of scripting your stories, focus on the character you are helping in the story to gain backing from your team.