Here’s Why You Should Put Storytelling at the Center of Your Company Culture

Here’s Why You Should Put Storytelling at the Center of Your Company Culture

It’s no secret that storytelling is a key to success in business communication. Whether it’s writing an email, delivering a presentation, or creating any number of other materials, crafting a compelling story will ensure audiences are engaged and can clearly understand the points you’re trying to make.

For the broader success of your business, you need more than one or two individuals trained in the art of storytelling. Instead, it needs to take a central role in your business, and that means making storytelling a priority across your organization.

If you’re wondering how to capitalize on the power of storytelling, investing in business storytelling training is the answer. Here are three ways the right training can put storytelling at the center of your company culture and help you reach your goals.

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Culture Sets the Tone for Your Organization

Healthy company culture has long been highlighted as an essential part of any successful business. When it comes to effective communication and selling, storytelling is no different; it needs to be embedded in your day-to-day process to the point that it is part of your organization’s DNA. Here are two things to keep in mind when you think about storytelling and how it can become a foundational element of your team’s culture.

  1. Leaders Must Be the Driving Force

A change in culture starts with leadership. To build a culture of storytelling at your organization, this effort needs to be modeled from the top. That’s because, even if they don’t realize it, executives always lead by example. In other words, if you want your organization to become masters of storytelling, and you want to make it foundational to the way you do business, everyone needs to embrace it. That means executives should participate in training — embrace, champion and reinforce it — and make storytelling part of their daily work, just as managers and individual contributors must do the same.

  1. Storytelling Creates a Shared Language for Your Organization

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting with a colleague trying to work through a challenge, but the solution is just not coming together. Then it happens. You realize that the way you’re using language to describe the problem you’re facing doesn’t line up with how your coworker is interpreting it. This happens in business a lot. We use acronyms and specialized language, and meaning isn’t always shared, especially when we’re working with someone from a different team or department.

But when storytelling is the foundation of your organization’s communications strategy, everyone will be on the same page. If everyone works from the same story framework and uses a shared vocabulary to describe story elements, you’ll find it much easier to find solutions because you won’t have to worry about whether you’ve translated key terms for everyone in the room. Instead, you’ll know that everyone is following along because your organization uses the same communication strategies and everyone has gone through the same storytelling training.

Storytelling Will Advance Everyone’s Professional Goals

To encourage your team to embrace storytelling — and storytelling training — remind them that mastering this skill will not only help the organization succeed, but also, will help them grow and advance in their careers.

One way that business storytelling training can help people reach their professional goals is by helping participants develop executive presence — or the aura of confidence, authority, and self-assuredness one projects when they speak. Though prevalent among business leaders, executive presence can be less common among individual contributors. But this quality can be developed by anyone.

Experienced communicators often have executive presence because they know how to interact effectively with an audience and know how to prepare for a presentation. As a result, these individuals often come across as highly confident and well versed in the subject matter being discussed. In the workplace, having executive presence can help people advance their careers because they’re more persuasive and, as a result, able to convince leaders to follow their recommendations, close sales, and otherwise exert influence.

The connection between learning how to command the room with executive presence and business storytelling training is clear. With the right training program, individuals learn how to engage audiences and communicate effectively, developing the skills necessary to influence audiences. Business storytelling training also teaches people how to prepare for the unexpected twists and turns — like technology issues, meeting time being cut short, or managing competing interests from their audience — that can occur during a presentation or meeting, equipping them with the skills that will help them come across as nimble, prepared and knowledgeable.

Focus on Coaching and Embrace Mistakes

How do you make the leap from an organization that wants storytelling to be part of its company culture to one where it actually exists? Through coaching and iteration. Here are four strategies for ensuring storytelling will become the bedrock of your organization’s business success.

Peer Coaching Puts Storytelling at the Center of Your Workflow

To stay in practice, everyone needs coaching. To make storytelling part of your organization’s culture, managers must demonstrate coaching, encouraging everyone to make peer coaching a regular practice. That way, storytelling, through coaching — and application of those skills — becomes a part of everyone’s daily work.

Manager Coaching and Leadership Helps Everyone Grow as a Storyteller

To make storytelling part of the bedrock of your organization’s culture, managers must drive and reinforce a culture of coaching by participating in it directly and encouraging their teams to share and question each other’s stories. Coaching should be a regular part of the story development process. But what does coaching actually look like? Here are five elements of coaching, and managing the coaching process, to implement with your teams:

  • Always focus on the audience. When discussing story structure, remember to always view communications through the lens of what the audience needs.
  • Assign peer coaching partners. When individuals have a practice partner, it’s easier to integrate coaching and storytelling into daily work, and thus make it part of company culture.
  • Integrate coaching into regular practice. Find opportunities to teach while you work.
  • Ensure a safe environment. Create a space where individuals can ask questions and for help.
  • Share results. Whether you had a great experience crafting an engaging story, or you struggled to bring the pieces together, it’s important to share. At team meetings or other gatherings, make sharing part of your storytelling culture. As a leader, you must set the example by sharing, especially when things didn’t go the way you’d hoped they would. That way, everyone can learn from your successes — and failures.

Take an Agile Approach to Your Work

As we’ve suggested, learning to use storytelling in business doesn’t happen all at once. It takes practice. For this reason, it’s critical to encourage an agile approach to learning and storytelling.

But what does an agile approach look like? For one thing, being agile means trying new things — or iterating— constantly and quickly. With an agile approach to work, organizations embrace mistakes and (more importantly) the learning that results from them. By testing ideas and assessing what worked and what went wrong along the way, organizations can collect information, adjust, and move forward with opportunities to test more ideas and make more mistakes.

Applying agile methodology to storytelling and coaching means that teams have the opportunity to practice and learn constantly. Know that mistakes will happen — and recognize that this is OK — because it makes space for continued learning and iteration, and ultimately a better end product.

Lay the Foundation for a Successful Future

By making storytelling a pillar of your organization’s culture, you’ll also create a more resilient business. Storytelling allows organizations to quickly respond to change and helps individuals leverage creativity and innovation. Building these soft skills can be a difference-maker for your organization.

Resilient organizations share three characteristics:

  1. They anticipate changes to the way they do business
  2. They regularly develop and test plans for potential changes
  3. They plan for various avenues for success to prepare for multiple potential changes

Resilient businesses are more successful because they are better prepared to recognize and take advantage of opportunities. They also recover more quickly, and even thrive, in times of turmoil. Business storytelling teaches these kinds of resilient behaviors and can help you be more successful, whether it’s in a meeting that takes an unexpected turn or an event that impacts the way your organization works.

Training Makes It All Possible

If you’re serious about making storytelling a core part of your organization’s culture, consider bringing in outside help. Business storytelling training will help everyone on your team learn similar strategies, which will make your storytelling efforts more seamless. Training also sets you up to provide peer coaching once the training concludes, which will make your culture of storytelling more sustainable. So, if you’d like to build a more successful and resilient organization, take the next step to learn what business storytelling training can do for you.

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