In my last blog post, I shared some story-telling tips with you which I hope are helpful! As per the idiom, “where the rubber meets the road”, simply put, when theory becomes a practice, I’d like to share some examples of how you might be able to do this at your next presentation, pitch or meeting.

Why Storytelling is Important

You can use stories to either highlight an opportunity and elicit a specific action, to harness a positive emotional response, or to highlight a pain-point and get someone to do something about it.

A well told story allows your audience to really feel a problem and if done right, you can positively influence decision making. Here are 3 prime examples of masterful storytelling in business.

The Types of Storytelling

Corporate Storytelling Example #1

The following story was used by someone to win the support of her management team to adopt a more creative approach to flexible working arrangements:

It was 2011. I’d just been appointed to a senior executive role in the company where I’d been slogging my guts out for the last 6 years. The selection process had been ruthless and I felt a mixture of exhaustion and relief. I went home that evening to share the news with my family. As we sat together around the dinner table, my 6 year old daughter said to me, “ Mummy, does the new job mean you’ll be happy now?”  Taken aback, I turned to her and said, “Darling, what makes you think I’m not happy?” And she innocently responded, “ Because you have to rush to work every day and you’re always grumpy, and then you’re grumpy when you come home too. Your work doesn’t sound like fun.” It was then that I realised I’d completely lost all perspective. I’d let my career hijack my life. 

So what did I do? Well, I didn’t go in the next day and give my notice. I didn’t move to the seaside. I kept the job but made a decision: from that point on, I would make it my leadership challenge to build a culture where people could be their best at home and at work. In fact, a culture where people could just be their best.  

It’s not hard to picture the little girl in this story and that moment where she asks the poignant question. It’s the moment that transports the audience to that dinner table and makes us wonder if our own child is thinking the same thing!  As a result, her team felt the problem and felt far more open to change. 

This personal narrative is one type of storytelling that focuses on work life balance, professional achievement, motherhood, leadership challenges, and gives us a glimpse into the storyteller’s personal and professional life. It’s impactful because it’s authentic and relatable.

Corporate Storytelling #2

Stories can also be short and simple like Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

 “There are 2 types of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.” 

Jeff Bezos understands the power of direct storytelling and over time, has built narratives around Amazon’s actions as a customer-centric brand. In 1997, Amazon started as an e-commerce business saving customer’s time and money. It makes sense that he adopts a short and direct style of messaging.To this day, the company’s disruptions and re-inventions continue to make headlines.

Corporate Storytelling #3

Stories can be elaborate, too! Here’s a story from the CEO of a digital services company, presenting in front of staff, while responding to their concerns that the company’s new strategy was too aggressive:

“3 years ago, I stood up in front of everyone and laid out our 3 year strategy. There were some huge targets in there. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I was terrified.  I went home that evening and asked myself, can we really do this? Have we stretched too far? But each day, I would tell myself, we’re either all in or not in at all. We either choose to be number 1, or we may as well go home. I learned what trust means, what it really means to hire the best people, and then allow to exceed all expectations. The result is now part of our history. We smashed it. Not only did we hit our 3 year goals, we exceeded them. You guys rewrote the playbook for the whole industry! We proved to ourselves that we are capable of amazing things when we harness our energy.  Well, I guess our new strategy is asking, who’s up for the next challenge? We’re about to go into the next phase of our growth. We face new challenges; the market’s changed enormously and will keep changing before our very eyes.  But you know what? I couldn’t feel more confident, that 3 years from now, we’ll be sitting here again, celebrating the fact that we’ve been able to maintain pole position.”

This story highlights past achievements and projects the audience towards a positive future. But it’s his ability to admit his fear and vulnerability that makes this story very powerful. The CEO (the person in charge of leading the company to success) was riddled with doubt but didn’t tell anyone. He positioned this story so that the employees turned out to be the heroes who proved him wrong and taught him valuable lessons. 

That’s why his audience are undoubtedly ignited, reinvigorated and fired up, despite their own initial apprehension! This is one benefit of internal storytelling, helping employees visualise their own impact while focusing on the organisation’s bigger picture. 

You can see how these stories engage, connect, and inspire. Have a think about how you might be able to use a story to make an impact at your next presentation, meeting or chat! You can start small or go big! Start with what you’re comfortable with until you’re ready to go from the comfortable.. to the thrilling!

Happy storytelling!

You got this.

In my previous post, “The Power of Storytelling in Business”, I explain the purpose of storytelling and story ideas with practical tips on how to develop a compelling story. I also made a video about this. If stories are used well, you allow your audience to sense the opportunity you’re presenting to them.


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