What would it be like if entrepreneurs felt stuck when explaining how their business helps customers?
Feeling stuck can happen at the exact moment when an entrepreneur wants to quantify the ROI that they’ve delivered to a specific client initiative.
Feeling stuck happens when you want to attach words to the value you deliver.
We all have moments when getting the right words onto the page, and out of our mouths, doesn’t work. Every time entrepreneurs ask me to interview them about their stories, one comment they make is, “I have the words in my head, but what comes out on paper isn’t as powerful as what I’m thinking—why?
When “getting the words out of your head” becomes a challenge, it feels like your brain is frozen. All you can think about is what you don’t want to say rather than what you do want to say.
No matter how hard you try to force the words from your brain to the paper and…nothing happens. I experience the same frustration!
To find a solution to this problem, I watched an interview with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. During the interview, he responded to a question about writer’s block. One strategy he mentions frequently is that he “showers up to eight times a day” to revive his creativity.
Then I thought about the possibility of showering 8 times a day during winter in Chicago—not at all appealing. However, what does appeal to me is the idea of taking 8 breaks during the day.
That’s when I had an idea.
What would it be like if we scheduled “storytelling breaks” during the day when we listen to entrepreneurs share their stories?
Business Leaders who tell a great story:
- Inspire employees to do something different.
- Move a group from anger and frustration to calm.
- Motivate people to adapt to changes in the workplace.
Listening to a great business storyteller is one of my favorite breaks to take when suffering from writers’ block. As soon as I listen to the story about how a problem was solved, it instantly washes away all the thoughts that block my thinking and creativity.
Some of the best storytellers I know are entrepreneurs. They have tons of stories to share about how they overcame obstacles.
Imagine being part of an entrepreneurs’ group where you attend virtual podcasts with business leaders who share personal stories about challenges they experienced while growing their businesses.
It’s sort of like a book group. After the podcast, the group engages in a brief conversation about the story—the entire activity would take 45 minutes. Soon, that feeling of being stuck disappears and people want to take new actions.
By the time the story ends, a flood of new ideas come to mind quickly and easily. Why?
Good storytellers bring up the full range of emotions. They capture our imagination and, at the same time anger and terrify us. Most importantly, the stories they tell are memorable. I still remember the stories I heard 15 years ago!
How do leaders make stories memorable?
What makes stories memorable goes beyond simply telling the story about what happened. Stories become memorable when meaning is infused into them.
During a recent interview, storytelling consultant/coach and speaker, Jan Sugar, said that using story rather than simply stating the facts in business shifts the feeling within the room. Stories are compelling when they tell the stuff of being human — embarrassment, a close call, an unexpected win, hope, rejection. She says, “Great stories signal that we are alike and in friendly territory.”
If you are someone who is a leader, why would you want to be a good storyteller? How can you find ways to tell the right stories? Most importantly, where can you find a good story to tell?
Well, it’s good for business. Whether you want to sell your product, roll out a new strategy, or have your employees embrace your vision, stories inspire and bring people together.
It turns out that finding stories is not the problem. They’re everywhere. Learning to tell them well is where people get stuck. It takes work and know-how.
To become a good storyteller, ask yourself two questions:
- Do I want people we work with to be committed to our company’s success?
- Do I want potential customers and partners to experience what makes this company special?
If the answer is, “Yes,” then ask yourself one more question:
- What could change if I shared “untold stories” about how the company overcame obstacles and triumphed?
Jan Sugar answers. “The right story at the right time changes everything.”
Carolyn Barth is the CEO of Digital Content Strategy, LLC. Known as “Carolyn Barth Storytelling” on LinkedIn, she has nearly 20,000 followers. What is her secret?
“The power of a great story helps me work my PR Magic for you (and your brand) to make you famous. It’s the right message, told at the right time, on the right channel using the right media today,” Carolyn Barth adds.
That’s what writer Lynn E. Miller calls “the new narrative.”