Long before social media, TV, radio and even books, people told stories. Storytelling is one of the oldest and most powerful ways for people to communicate and learn. In fact, good storytellers know how to activate our imagination and engage all our senses and emotions to create lasting memories and encourage specific behaviours.
Let’s get physical
That’s right…storytelling is connected to memory and emotion on a very physical level. When we tell stories, we create a picture for the listener. When you create these images in a person’s brain, you are tapping into their visual cortex, a deeper part of the brain with better, or even permanent, retention. And that’s where stories, from a business perspective, become more interesting.
Turn meeting time into story time
The reasons for using stories in business are no different than the reasons we use stories in other places—to educate, to relate information in a memorable way, to engage others, and to create an emotional impact that leaves a lasting impression of you and your message. You can easily craft memorable and meaningful stories for your customers using the tips below. Basing your stories on real events you have personally experienced, or heard about from others, is a great place to start.
The structure of a good story
All good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. And each of these parts should contain specific information. It might help to think of a story like a meal…first you set the table, then you serve the food and finally you clean it all up.
Beginning (setting the table)
Include the key facts the listener needs to know
Describe the people involved
Middle (serving the food)
What happened to the people in your story
Describe events in a chronological timeline, whenever possible
Describe the conflict the people faced (or the decisions that had to be made)
End (cleaning it all up)
Describe the resolution
Clearly provide the lesson(s) learned or the meaning of the story
Detail what changed as a result of the experience
The four story types
Bridging the Gap - takes listeners from the present to the future to demonstrate the need for change. For example, the obvious solution to a client’s future state of wanting to protect their family should they die is to is provide meaningful information about insurance protection products or solutions they can get today.
An analogy - helps the listener see a situation from a different point-of-view. Talk about how others have faced the same challenges as your customer and how they overcame these issues. Use real life examples for authenticity.
Evidence/Results - stories that are used to prove that you can do what you are promising. These are “just the facts” stories for clients who are skeptical and inexperienced and prefer a more straightforward approach to the information you want to impart.
Hero’s journey – for when there are big obstacles to overcome. This type of story appeals to your customer’s emotions demonstrating progress overtime and how challenges can be overcome.
Using the power of stories to when talking with your customers can help them connect with you and better understand their need for insurance protection in a meaningful and lasting way.
The compelling story checklist
The ‘Compelling Story Checklist” is a tool you can use to practice and assess your storytelling skills. Find it here.