Engaging audiences, delivering compelling presentations, and designing other high-quality communication aren’t just about making your company look good to the rest of the world. Telling a story about your work, and making sure people listen, is the best way to encourage people to take action — to buy your product, use your service, or otherwise act in ways that will help your business thrive.
But how do you get everyone in your organization good at this important set of skills? Selecting the right communications training for your organization is the critical first step.
The right business communications training can transform your organization. By making storytelling the central component of your communications strategy, you’ll not only empower individuals in your organization to make meetings more engaging and productive, but also, you’ll set your business up for broader success.
Improved Communication Can Have Positive Effects Across Your Business
It’s hard to understate how critical it is to be an effective communicator in today’s business landscape. Strong communicators can save your organization time and money. In fact, McKinsey estimates that organizational productivity increases between 20 and 25% with improved communication.
But effective business communication isn’t just about being a charismatic speaker or “commanding the room.” That’s important, but it’s only part of the equation. Instead, success means understanding your
Great Communicators Take a Strategic Approach
Traditional communications training focuses on skills that can give people the appearance of professional polish, but without the substance. They teach you how to use hand gestures and make eye contact when speaking to a group, or how to change your diction to sound more “professional” in emails.
But these types of training focus on how people should act, instead of how they should think.
It’s about strategy, not performance
Some people think of effective communicators as those who deliver thrilling speeches by “owning the room.” But what if you don’t feel like a particularly inspiring speaker, or the topic itself — a quarterly sales report or a program update — just isn’t that exciting? That’s where effective storytelling comes into play.
The problem with the traditional understanding of business communication is that business presentations are often viewed as performances. By redefining effective business communication as a strategic dialogue, individuals can be empowered to be successful communicators, not just charismatic performers.
Even a great speaker will fail without a big idea or coherent message. You can be a great speaker, but if the content isn’t clear or there’s no key takeaway that you want the audience to leave with, your ideas fall flat. While some communications training will teach people how to act, the real transformational power lies with teaching people how to think strategically and succeed by using a storytelling framework.
Appreciating the Importance of Storytelling
A great storyteller will captivate audiences and communicate critical information in a way that’s compelling, easy to digest, and will lead the audience to the desired action. That’s why using story as a central component of your business communication is the key to your organization’s broader success. High-quality storytelling can also:
- Make complex topics easier to understand, facilitating your organization’s ability to innovate
- Help employees feel more connected with their work, giving individuals an enhanced sense of purpose
- Increase the likelihood that individuals will remember important information, improving efficiency across your organization
With storytelling-based communications training, individuals can learn how to tell these kinds of compelling stories. Here are outcomes you can expect when you strategically craft your story:
Nimbly respond to the needs of the audience
Imagine you’re in a meeting with executives and your time is cut short. You’re asked to compress your 30-minute presentation into five minutes. By using story structure to organize your presentation, you can seamlessly jump to what your audience needs to know. By organizing your communications around storytelling, you’ll have the flexibility to respond to the needs of the moment. Traditional communications training doesn’t teach that.
Focus your ideas
It’s easy to fall into the trap of following tangents or otherwise losing focus during a meeting or presentation — especially if you tend to get nervous when you speak in front of people. Organizing a presentation around story structure ensures you isolate one big idea that is woven in from start to finish. Doing so will give audience members a unifying idea to hold on to throughout, and gives the presenter a strong message to tie all of their facts and figures back to.
Make the most of your presentation by engaging your audience
Neuroscience shows us that humans respond to storytelling in profound ways. An engaged audience can give suggestions, provide insights, and serve as important partners in the future.
Storytelling builds executive presence
People who have executive presence are confident, well prepared, and can explain their ideas in ways that are easy to understand. It’s not the same as being intelligent or having technical skills. After all, people with a great deal of experience or knowledge can struggle to communicate effectively. They may overload audiences with too much data or share so many facts that listeners can’t see intended connections. Ironically, sometimes it can be more powerful to share less information when that information is concise and directly relevant to the topic at hand.
Executive presence is critical in face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid meetings
The ability to connect authentically is central to executive presence, and it’s something that can be difficult in face-to-face interactions, and especially those mediated by a screen. Presenters with executive presence have a deep knowledge of the story they want to tell, and they can use their familiarity with that story to create an authentic dialogue with their audience. A deep understanding of story means that speakers can move seamlessly between different parts of the story and nimbly respond to the needs of the audience, regardless of where they’re located.
Why is executive presence important?
Presentation skills are among the most important capabilities for developing executive presence and help speakers maximize their impact. With strong executive presence, audience members will listen more intently and remember the speaker’s ideas and proposals. The confidence that speakers exude when they have executive presence is a reflection of their comfort level with the material they’re presenting, which in turn builds the audience’s confidence in the speaker. It’s easy to see how a strong foundation in storytelling can give speakers confidence, and in turn help them develop executive presence.
How to tell if your communications training has been successful
When organizations invest in communications training, determining the ROI is a central concern. If your communications training is meeting your needs, you’ll know it’s worth the investment when:
- Leaders spend less time revising communications
- You close more deals, and close them more quickly
- More individuals present and speak during meetings and other events
- Pitches get approved with greater regularity
- Teams collaborate on developing presentation materials
- Employees are more productive and engaged
With the right business communications training, the investment is well worth the transformation you’ll observe in your organization.
Which communications training is best for you?
Storytelling-based business communications training doesn’t just help people present a slide deck with greater confidence, it can increase collaboration and efficiency within your organization and improve your bottom line.
Whether it’s leading a meeting over Zoom, speaking at a conference, or sending a high-stakes email, effective business communication is critical to your organization’s success. Learning how to leverage storytelling to benefit your business means that individuals at your organization will build the skills and learn the strategies they need to succeed.