At the end of each school year, my children bring home a pile of used exercise books. While in the spirit of being a minimalist, most of these get thrown out. However, their journals or creative story writing books I cherish and love to read. I can tell what they were thinking through their stories. My son Scott wrote a story about a wicked witch named Kate (his sister). At another time, my son Jack wrote a story about a family’s holiday adventure based very much on one of ours.
We are naturally all storytellers but somehow lose faith in our ability to connect with people through story and instead fall into what I term PowerPoint or marketing language. I’ve worked in marketing but now run a program where I use my background in journalism and PR to help women leaders clarify their story and get media exposure for impact. I always say to clients drop your PowerPoint and marketing language, instead start with your story.
We naturally tell stories every day to our friends, in coffee shops, to our family members. We’ll talk about what has been bothering us or something interesting that has happened in our daily lives. A story has a power to connect us as human beings.
Stories also have a power of making the complex clear. My kids and husband are a fan of the scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who uses storytelling principles such as anecdote, analogy and metaphor to explain complex scientific principles.
He speaks in simple, relatable terms and yet in no way makes his audience feels like he is dumbing science down. Almost every leader has a vision, but the challenge is to relate and connect with people, so your vision resonates with others and comes to life. Think of the great leaders who stick in your mind – they’re usually the ones who humanise their message and deliver it in ways that connect with everyone at some level. Leading author and researcher into shame, courage and vulnerability Brene` Brown is a great example.
Through her stories about herself and others, she is about to turn complex psychological concepts into relatable messages that help and inspire others. Her vision, in turn, becomes clear.
When you’re thinking about your vision and purpose, don’t get caught up in the vanity metrics of marketing such as social media likes, logos and websites. The stories you tell and messaging is what will connect you with your target audience to build trust and grow your business. Reach out to learn how to clarify your story and get exposure for greater impact.