Stories are being told about your company all the time. Unless you have never had a customer, someone somewhere is talking about your company. When they do so, they are speaking with passion either for or against your business. You need to have your passionate stories ready to add to that conversation. To create raving fans in your business, you need to be a raving business.
When a customer experiences your company, they leave with an impression. If they were offended, hurt or feel they did not get good value, they will passionately talk about (create the story of) their perceptions of your business. Likewise, if you exceeded their expectations, they will also talk about that story. When a person hears one of these customer stories about your business, do you have your own equally passionate company stories to counter or confirm? Can your customers find these passionate stories on your website via video or audio links?
Here are five storytelling for business tips to help you express your passion:
1. Do not be afraid to be full of passion about your product or service. For example, I am always amazed at the way small brick-and-mortar business owners can be so alive and excited about their offerings but yet have zero expressions of that anywhere on their websites, other advertising or in casual conversations. Real passion ignites real passion. Don’t tell me that you’re “passionate about the perfect cup of coffee” at your coffee shop. Rather, through business storytelling, show me your passion by telling me the story of how you spent a year travelling the country to find the best and most unique roasting machine. I want to see that look in your eyes as you tell me about the best/worst coffee you ever had that led you to start your own business. Let me laugh with you about your obsessive interviewing and auditioning in order to find the perfect baristas. Help me to feel your focus as you tell me about going through a dozen suppliers (and their unique personalities) looking for the perfect coffee beans.
2. Your employees are your best source of truth about your company. Train your employees in ways to gather and collect their own company stories. Then, on a regular basis, gather employees together to share these stories. The sharing of these stories must not be mandatory. Requiring employees to have a story results in faked stories. By the way, my coaching clients will sometimes hesitate to use this story-gathering process with employees because the session will generate “nothing but complaints” from the participants. All stories have value to your company and if you are getting lots of complaints, let those stories be the catalyst for internal change. Take the cue to understand: if your staff is producing uncomfortable stories, then you can be assured that your customers are unhappy, too.
3. If your company is very large with multiple locations or large departments, start your storytelling process in just one section of the company. Nothing squashes passion more than yet another management project that “we are all going to do.” Choose one department and let them be the first group to experience the power of business storytelling. Once they have learned and applied storytelling techniques successfully, then other departments or locations will want to join in.
4. The elevator speech is dead. For any size company, learn to tell each of your stories in a variety of time formats such as two minutes, six minutes or fifteen minutes. Always be ready to tell potential customers about your work. Your preparedness will help convey your passion.
5. Remember that storytelling is a person-to-person experience. Take every opportunity to be in front of customers or employees to tell your stories. Digital storytelling, print advertisements and social media are all fine tools, but they can never replace the benefits of experiencing your story passionately told live and in person.
Storytelling is one of your business communication essentials. Add passion to your public speaking!
Sean Buvala is a storyteller and corporate coach focusing on communication skills through the art of storytelling for business. He can be reached at www.seantells.com . You may also follow him on Twitter at @storyteller.