Why Businesses Must Tell Stories

19 Feb

Storytelling may be an ancient form of sharing, but it’s receiving current-day attention as the way businesses and individuals can communicate their ideas. As we continue on with our Da Vinci theme, this week we’ll take a look at Leonardo’s own use of storytelling (he crafted fables on top of the paintings, sketches and inventions), and why storytelling is a tool that businesses cannot ignore.

Don’t share all the details, instead create an expereince.

Our businesses are built upon experiences that have taken us to this point. But do you really need to write a novel-length biography to explain those fundamental values to clients, friends, and colleagues? Absolutely not – short is sweet, particularly in this social media, screen-scrolling, click & read age.

To show how established storytelling is within communication, consider Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a man with huge talents and strong beliefs. Da Vinci knew all about creating an impression succinctly and in between his sketches, he scribbled out stories. Whether they were his creation or something he’d heard, we don’t know – but nevertheless these stories in his journals and sketchbooks capture lessons that are easily remembered.

Regardless of whether Da Vinci knew about business marketing – he nevertheless realized universal truths about storytelling, which include the ability to:

  • “Illustrate norms and values”
  • “Develop a relationships with your audience”
  • “Share valuable knowledge”
  • “Facilitate unlearning” (rethink your approach)
  • “Create an emotional connection”

(List is cited from  Deborah Sole and Daniel Grey Wilson’s paper, Storytelling in Organizations: The power and traps of using stories to share knowledge in organizations. You can read a detailed breakdown on how storytelling has given companies insights, framed messages and is integral within communication.)

When you tell your story, think of it as an opportunity to let others into the experience. Through storytelling, people can vicariously live the lessons, the experiences, the knowledge-transfer of innocence to experience (to pull a little from Joseph Campbell, who is a huge resource for storytellers in business or otherwise).

Now here’s a treat for you. In learning about Da Vinci’s different approaches to expressing his story, whether through artwork or beyond, we found some fascinating fables. Below is one that shares the value of thinking before speaking. As you read it, note how you might consider your teeth and your tongue. Can you remember a time you’ve literally bitten your tongue? See how those past experiences, experiences so many of us have in common, have been used to create a lesson that is easily relatable.

Storytelling is more than a fad – it’s built into our DNA, it’s how we absorb our world and understand new ideas, it’s a tool you can use in both your personal and work life. Now, grab the popcorn (or not) and enjoy Leonardo’s very short fable about the teeth and the tongue.

Teeth and Tongue

Till next time!

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network  Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.

Read more from Camille as she aspires to  help women explode their success. For more posts and experiences, join Camille at her Sister Leadership page, connect on Twitter, and follow on Facebook.


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