Why Storytelling Works

July 27, 1999
Have you ever found yourself mediating a tense negotiation where no one is budging an inch? Trying to get a new client to notice you and your company’s services and you need to get your foot in the door? Hosting a client dinner, where after minimal conversation, everyone is starting to look at their watches? Forced to work with a difficult colleague or client and you need to win him/her over? Making a presentation that includes a lot of technical information and complex data and you need to make sure your audience understands and relates to what you are saying?

Storytelling is a skill that will not only help you through any of these predicaments, but will set you apart from the rest. Peter Giuliano and Frank Carillo, the principals of Executive Communications Group, provide these reasons why storytelling can work:

Storytelling breaks through barriers.
Telling stories puts people at ease and helps to build relationships. Stories have a way to get others to open up and be more receptive to you and your ideas.

Storytelling puts information into context.
Research proves that people learn best through stories. The technique gives you a powerful edge on your competition when your audience looks to you to communicate complex information in a way that they can understand.

Storytelling is persuasive.
Stories let you broach subjects delicately, introduce ideas subtly and adopt a kinder, gentler leadership style overall.

Storytelling makes an emotional connection.
Telling stories reveals something about yourself, which gives people the sense that they know you. Often, this is an advantage with a potential client because people feel comfortable working with those they connect with.

Storytelling can enliven a presentation of facts and figures.
Using storytelling in a presentation can bring numbers and pie charts to life, transforming a dry presentation into an energized one.

Storytelling keeps you foremost in people’s minds.
A person who tells a good story, just like the story itself, tends to be remembered. It is a sure way to gain and maintain a competitive edge.

Storytelling gives you control of the spotlight.
Knowing the right way to tell a story gives you the unique ability to grab attention for yourself or guide it away.

SOURCE: Executive Communications Group, Englewood, NJ, March 11, 1999.