Business Storytelling in 2021: How to Brush Up on Your Storytelling for a Successful Business Presentation

All memorable presentations have at least one story. And who doesn’t love a good story? Storytelling is a natural form of communication and an age-old tradition passed down for ages to help others understand backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and be remembered. 

But although we all use storytelling in our day-to-day lives, we often underestimate its role in business. Needless to say, this will need to change. 

Using stories as a tool in the corporate world is gaining a lot of attention. However, despite studies on this topic proving how well-crafted stories can be more persuasive and memorable, the value of this art has not been entirely accepted nor practiced. So whether proposing a ground-breaking idea, delivering solutions to a customer, or presenting a business plan for a start-up, you’ll want to polish up your storytelling and presentation techniques. 

What is Corporate Storytelling? 

If storytelling is about using a story to make an emotional connection with your audience, business storytelling follows a structure for the purpose of marketing, individual and public communication, and collaboration. It’s a timeless powerful tool that can help you persuade peers, sell to clients, develop new marketing narratives, and even reposition the company amongst the competition. 

In business communication, storytelling can also be used to organize conferences, conventions, and talks. The typical three-act composition can also enable powerful communication inside the business and can be used by managers dealing with change in HR and management. For instance, having a profound knowledge of storytelling is an important trait in today’s corporate setting as modern managers, innovators, and HR professionals all need to get into the minds and souls of the clients/customers and top talents. 

Business storytelling can be used by businesses while preparing corporate presentations, drafting press releases, pumping out content for the end-user or for employees. The result of any article, ad, presentation, or video will be enhanced by using the right storytelling know-how. To help you deliver valuable stories during your next business presentation, take a look at these useful tips. 

Understand Your Audience 

Knowing what people value and what they don’t will help you tell the right story. Find out what topics stir your target audience’s interest or what people or brands they trust. For starters, try to establish any shared experiences to highlight. Truly understanding the people is a crucial first step in your storytelling journey. 

  • Genuine Storytelling is About Conflicts and Solutions  

Whether it’s your CEO, investors or your employees, humans love to be receptive to stories. We’ve been telling and listening to stories for generations, whether it was around scorching fires a thousand years ago or on Facebook more recently. 

Truth is, not all stories are interesting. The ones that drench into our minds almost always have three main elements: the problem or the challenge, the journey, and the discovery of the solution. 

Centering your presentation on these contrasting forces is where the sweet spot lies. Suppose you need to present a proposal to your board to reduce the use of sustainability-sourced palm oil from all your products because your business’ reputation is under growing scrutiny, and your sales are starting to drop.  In that case, you could use a conventional approach and focus your presentation on: 

  • How and why sales have dropped 
  • An alternative to palm oil 
  • Profitability and logistical details of each alternative 
  • The different phases of the switch-over 

Or even better, use the strategic storytelling approach to:

  • Unfold your presentation with a moving story about a farmer who fell prey to a respiratory illness because of the massive deforestation needed to clear land for oil palm farming. 
  • Your collaborative endeavor with the company that owns these oil palm farms is triggered by the bad press because more people around the world have become aware of the dreadful consequences of palm oil farming. 
  • Switching to alternatives like soybean and sunflower oil sourced sustainably could better brand perception, customer engagement, and sales. 

Know What You’re Trying to Convey 

Note that your story should include names and specific time periods, and relatable characters. More than that, it requires an introduction (set-up), a middle (conflict or contrast), and an end (resolution and key takeaways). Drama is presented in the contrast phase and should expose the frustrations your audience faces. The way you deliver a presentation matters more than you think, which means that using the latest presentation software tools, engaging PowerPoint slides, and convenient PDF Chef formats will enable your associates to better understand and identify with your message. 

You can also try to be visual by giving your presentation a new dimension with animated GIFs, related images, or short videos that better guide the narrative of your story. 

  • Great Stories are Grounded in Facts, not Fiction 

Purchasing behavior is mostly influenced by emotions. And that’s not going to change any time soon. What has been changing, however, is the way people regard emotional purchasing. 

With fake news all over our feeds, misuse of information, and misrepresentation, buyers are growing aware that what they feel or see might not necessarily be the truth.  They become more cautious wherever the emotional play is used and are driven by genuinely informed purchasing choices. 

  • Authenticity Sells 

Business storytelling cannot be fictional. If your customer can relate to a real-life story, you’re making a connection and developing trust. And who doesn’t like doing business with brands they trust. Readers/listeners feel authenticity, and if they don’t see it, they will reject both the story and the teller. 

Moral of the story? 

We can use this innate element of our nature to our advantage by anchoring stories about the world’s changes and what customers stand to lose if they don’t act now. If you masterfully use business storytelling to motivate, you will be able to get your audience hooked and even more eager to take your desired steps and drive change. Remember: corporate storytelling doesn’t have to be all logic and data.

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