I recently heard a podcast about a new book called “The Bezos Blueprint.” Author Carmine Gallo said that Amazon’s success is fueled by Bezos’ commitment to elevating “the way Amazonians write, collaborate, innovate, pitch, and present.” How? By training everyone to use a storytelling framework to communicate.
Here, I give you 9 reasons why you should invest in storytelling training for your business (in case the fact that it works for Amazon isn’t enough).
- SELL MORE WITHOUT BEING “TOO SALESY”
No one likes to be sold to. The hard sell belongs in the past. Face it, most customers have done their research before they talk to you, so they tune out a repeat of facts.
Stories are the Trojan Horses of modern communication – to enter the walled citadel of your prospect’s mind, use a story. Stories disarm cynicism and judgment. They tap into curiosity as our brains try to predict what’s coming next. Weaving a compelling story is the key to engaging your audience and building relationships.
- MAKE EFFECTIVE CONNECTIONS
People crave connection, especially now. Since the pandemic, many have experienced a distancing from others, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetime. A recent MIT study showed that after experiencing social isolation, our brains crave interaction with others just as a hungry person desires food.
The skill of storytelling puts effective communication at your staff’s fingertips so they can engage and create valuable connections with others. Stories connect the storyteller and the listener in a powerful way – our brain waves synchronise to the point that the listener’s brain cannot discern whether they are experiencing the story or hearing it. In a disconnected world, connecting through storytelling creates lasting impressions.
- IMPROVE BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS
Bezos famously banned PowerPoint presentations way back in 2004. Instead, he required his staff to write a narrative 2-6 pages long that everyone would read at the beginning of the meeting. He reasons that storytelling techniques require people to make connections between ideas, causes, and effects with more thought than bullet point slides.
You don’t have to go so far as throwing out presentations, but consider how much more effective presentations within the team or to clients will be using proven story structures rather than boring bullet points.
Here’s an example comparing bullet points to a story:
- Single-use coffee pods are bad for the environment.
- The average employee drinks 5 cups of coffee per week.
- 5 x 52 = 260 pods per person per year.
Now, as a story:
Since 2005, we have stocked the break room with single-use coffee pods. An employee who drank five cups of coffee per week has produced enough plastic waste to choke a blue whale.
I’ll leave you to decide which is more effective.
- BE MORE MEMORABLE
Science has proven that stories are over 20 times more memorable than facts and data. Stories engage our emotional brain, releasing potent chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. These chemicals cause us to pay attention and imprint stories in our memories. Plus, our brains use just two regions to process language, whereas hearing a story stimulates multiple areas simultaneously.
In the book “Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,” Chip and Dan Heath backed the stickiness of stories up with a small experiment. They asked students to give one-minute speeches. Students cited an average of 2.5 statistics in each, and 10% used storytelling. Afterwards, only 5% of the students remembered any statistic at all, while 63% remembered the stories.
Stand out and make a real impression using storytelling tactics.
- DELIVER BETTER CONTENT
“You can have the best technology, you can have the best business model, but if the storytelling isn’t amazing, it won’t matter.” Jeff Bezos
The world is noisy. People are tuning out. Take it from Bezos. He firmly believes in using a storytelling framework at all times. He even requires Amazon engineers to train in storytelling. Why do engineers need to learn storytelling? Because stories make complex information digestible and memorable.
Storytelling techniques deliver heart-to-heart content rather than ads that shout or text that is as exciting to read as a dictionary.
If your entire team learns to deliver a good story rather than present facts and figures, you’ll have value-driven, engaging content in every facet of the business.
- GET YOUR TEAM ON THE SAME PAGE
Whenever a client interacts with your organisation they should get a consistent message. Research has shown that inconsistent communication damages brand credibility by 50%. Consistency can be especially difficult to achieve when many people work remotely and office culture is less relevant.
An accessible bank of relevant, useful stories for your organisation is the glue that holds your communications together. Your story bank should hold stories that exemplify your purpose, beginnings, values, and where you are going. Having a solid core of stories will create unity in your team that will reflect in their actions and deliver a consistent experience.
- MOTIVATE PEOPLE TO ACT
Stories release oxytocin, and oxytocin drives action.
Paul Zak has studied oxytocin extensively and is known for establishing the behavioural effects of this neurochemical. One study he conducted involved showing a video on topics such as smoking, drinking, and speeding. Participants were paid $5 and received either a dose of oxytocin or a placebo. After watching, they were asked if they wanted to donate part of the $5 to a charity associated with the cause. Participants who received a dose of oxytocin donated 56% more money to charity.
When used in training your staff and in dealing with clients, storytelling can motivate them to take the action you desire.
- INCREASE THE PERCEIVED VALUE OF YOUR PRODUCTS
A few years ago, researchers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn showcased the value of storytelling by listing insignificant objects on eBay with a heartfelt, well-written, and purposeful short story about the item in the description section. The items, purchased at a garage sale for no more than $1.50 apiece, resold for nearly $8,000 – highlighting how a smart storytelling strategy can contribute to raising the perceived value of an item and generating massive returns on investment.
- INSPIRE PEOPLE
You’re thinking, “How will inspiring people impact my bottom line?”
Most business training is, let’s face it, boring. Storytelling training is fun and interactive and will motivate your staff to be more creative and dynamic with a new skillset. Motivated sales staff = better bottom line.
Also people want to be inspired. In a chaotic world that overwhelms us with fake news from every direction, customers are drawn to brands that give them something refreshingly honest and real.
Consider these recent stats:
- 46% of consumers would pay more to purchase from a brand they trust. Stories are proven to build connection and trust.
- 77% of consumers buy from brands that share their values. Stories communicate your values.
- 66% of consumers say transparency is one of the most attractive qualities. Stories exemplify your practices with memorable impact.
The power of storytelling can make a real difference to your organisation. I invite you to join me to see the difference storytelling training can make to your organisation.
I run Digital Storytelling workshops with the NZ Marketing Association.
You can find out more here: https://marketing.org.nz/digital-storytelling-workshop/wlg/dec
I also run in-house courses on storytelling for sales and marketing teams.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.