I recently attended an IABC Calgary half-day workshop on corporate storytelling. The presenter, Corrine Tessier, had the 20 or so participants start the day by partnering up, with one person telling the other a two minute story about an object in their bag - cell phones, notebooks, pens, etc. Following the exercise, the room came alive as the group explained the impact of this simple activity. Some of the paraphrased comments include:
- The listener almost immediately engaged with the speaker;
- Within just two minutes, the listener had a much better understanding of the speaker's personality;
- In many of the stories, the speaker communicated vulnerability, which many of the listeners interpreted as authenticity;
- The story and its implications served as common ground from which to move forward;
- The listener was better able to remember the speaker after this short period;
- The story served as a jumping-off point for further discussion, often about seemingly unconnected ideas.
Fast forward to an organizational context and the role deliberate, well-crafted stories can, should or do play. No doubt, there is a Change and Internal Communications application. However, stories are natural to us all - an inherent capability - meaning we should be able to take stories beyond the walls of an organization to all facets of corporate communication, or at the very least many of them. Media relations, Advanced Key Messaging (think proof points) and community relations are a few thoughts.
Stories are a little like blogs, in that they are viral. If you hear a fantastic story, you're likely to repeat it, modify it slightly to suit your needs, assume ownership over the tale and re-tell it. For something inherent and natural, it seems to me we don't use stories nearly enough, myself included.