How Storytelling Can Help You Gather And Motivate Your Tribe By WBR Senior Editor Kat Lewis
Once upon a time business books were considered serious and formal, but now there is a far greater emphasis (and reward) in building relationships and communities with our clients; stories are a fantastic way to make that happen.
Without stories books, blogs, and podcasts can be dry, boring, lifeless and hard to relate to; nobody wants to be part of that author’s community!
Let’s explore three of the key reasons why stories are so powerful when it comes to sharing your business expertise and attracting new clients.
Three reasons why stories are powerful
- We are wired to understand stories. As children we were taught via stories; we recognise the pattern of a story and absorb information from the narrative. For example, the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel has been used for decades to keep children safe. There might not be a real witch or a gingerbread house in the woods, but instead of telling children “don’t stray too far because it’s dangerous”, we taught them through story. Good stories share a moral.
- Stories help suspend disbelief. By the time you are an adult you are likely more discerning about new concepts and ideas. If your life’s work involves helping people “think bigger”, stories are a great way to do this. Our brains recognise patterns; as soon as we start to read a “story” we temporarily suspend disbelief or judgement. Think about sci-fi films where people can fly in space; you and I can’t do that (yet), but we don’t watch the film and say “oh that’s not possible”, we enjoy it as a work of art.
A good story helps your reader (or listener) engage at a deeper level which means their ability to learn increases, and their motivation to change or take the next step intensifies (refer back to what Ivan shared about going deeper into the emotional layers using the ‘So What?’ trilogy on day 6).
- Stories help create an emotional connection. Stories, personal or not (more on that later), can help you build empathy with your target audience. People want to feel seen, heard and understood. For example, when you share a story about how you transitioned your business from A to B your audience recognises that you have once been in their shoes, know how it feels, and that you have the ability to show them how to reach the next level. It removes the “them” and “us” and creates a sense of belonging.
In business books it’s common for a reader to dip in and out; stories create layers of information in a format that’s easy to understand, and at an aesthetic level they help break up large chunks of information and enhance the layout.
But that’s not the end! To get the most out of your stories there are a few things you need to consider.
How to use stories effectively
- Keep it simple. Don’t get bogged down in detail.
- Use a mix of short and long stories so the pace and rhythm of your writing engages the reader.
- Provide a key takeaway. Remember the phrase, “So, the moral of the story is…” Make sure the moral of your story is clear, if it isn’t it detracts from your book’s core message. Sum up and reaffirm the point you want to make, by doing this you help the reader get full value without too much effort on their part.
Perhaps by this point you’re thinking “Kat, what if I don’t have any stories?” You aren’t the first person to feel that way.
Everyone has a story to tell
Storytelling has the power to transform the reader (and the author).
Doug Bennett was once on the brink of bankruptcy. Now he’s in the top five per cent of financial advisers in the world, and we’ve just published his second book (jam packed with stories!). His story helped him recognise how much he turned his life and business around, and imagine how much it inspires entrepreneurs?
Georgia Kirke, founder of Write Business Results, shares how her grandmother used to hold her hand and take her to a caravan that had been converted into a travelling library. Her grandmother’s ability to nurture her childhood obsession with books inspired Georgia to create WBR!
People relate to stories.
You will have a story worth sharing (we can help you find it), but if you don’t want to disclose it yet you can (with permission) use a real-life case study in story format. If your clients prefer anonymity you can change names or a few key details to honour that. Or you can create fictional scenarios specific to the concept you want to share, which also saves you trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole!
When you include stories in each chapter of your book it’s like a really nice thread that runs all the way through and helps bring a sense of cohesion to the reader.
10 second takeaway
Think of one story (yours or a case study) you would love to share in your book. What is the main point you want to share with the reader? Come on into the Facebook group and share your thoughts (if you like!).
Or, if you have a story you are itching to share with the world in 2022 through a book, blog or podcast, why not schedule a brand and content strategy session with us? We’ll help you leverage your incredible content and get the business results you desire.