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Storytelling

A tool that can help you influence your stakeholders

Bindu Bhatia

Who in this world doesn't work with stories and data? A few days ago, even my 5year old daughter had to make a story around why 5 Barbies are not enough, and she needs more.

Here's a quick article for all of you to understand the importance of storytelling and learn this ONE storytelling tool that you can start using right away at work!

Power of stories

- In the long run, you are remembered for your stories, and not designations or wealth

- Stories are the most powerful tools to build cultures in societies and organizations

- Stories play a significant role to shape our thought process and core personalities

Challenges that stories resolve at work

Stories….

- Have the power to capture attention of the audience

- Can build a change agility mind-set in the organizations

- Enable people to look at different perspectives, and make better decisions

- Elevates both – the thinking and emotional process of the brain – which help in motivating, influencing the workforce for better productivity, quality, innovation and creativity at work

- Can bring a lot of emotional maturity, intelligence and resilience in the workforce

Stories and the Brain connection

Whatever we do in a routine for a long time, eventually stops catching our conscious attention. The brain gets attracted to challenges, problem-solving, contrasting or unbelievable information, something that stimulate emotions, and stories have all these flavors.

· Stories are hence a perfect recipe to make a transformational difference in individuals and organizations.

· Stories activate our whole brain – logical and emotional.

· Stories help build subconscious rapport with the listeners.

· 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story

Pic 1

All of us have been using stories from childhood, most of our personality traits and subconscious patterns are influenced by the stories we hear.

In this article, lets dive deeper into one storytelling tool that can help present data in a sharper, meaningful and innovative way that can capture your audience's attention.

P.O.W | Purpose. Outcome. Why

This simple yet most impactful and important tool helps you gain clarity on the objectives and context or your story/presentation. Just spend few minutes jotting down the answers to the following questions: 

Purpose

- What larger result will this meeting/presentation will get for the organization? 

Example: A meeting to present "Attrition" data, has the purpose of saving organization the revenue loss owing to involuntary attrition, building a better brand etc. 

- This is the overarching reason for this meeting. To arrive at the purpose of the meeting, keep asking yourself –

a. What will this meeting get me, what will happen if we get it, why is it important for the organization? 

b. What will happen if we don't achieve the desired outcomes of this meeting?

c. How is this meeting serving the larger purpose?

If you don't have all the answers, it is a good idea to have this discussion with seniors.

Outcome

This on the contrary are the tangible outcomes of the meeting. When the meeting is over, what is it that you and the attendees will step out with? 

Outcomes are always measurable and can be described as examples below:

By end of this meeting, we/attendees will

• Have a list of 50+ ideas from  the participants

• Decide on the ……...

• Understand the ………….

• Gain knowledge about………

• Have an action tracker with project milestones etc.

Why

This is the context/background of the meeting. You can choose to look at the past challenges, or the need to do this meeting. This WHY answers these questions : What’s in it for you, what’s in it for others and what’s in it for the organization? 

Some questions that can help you arrive at the “logical why” of your meeting:

- What happened in the past, are you addressing any challenge for the organization?

- How are you helping the organization meet it’s stated tangible goals?

- Why is it important for the audience to listen an d respond in this meeting? 

Why is this meeting important for you?

This “Why” will keep your audience hooked. This is your opportunity to connect with and influence them. The stronger this WHY is, the more attention you will get.

Once you answer all the above questions, you will be ready with your storyline.

A “Why” can be created using one or both of the frames of reference given below: 

a) Blame Frame of Reference 

Simply put, blame frame refers to telling your audience what all can possibly go wrong if you don’t take action today! It delivers a sense of urgency, a feeling of a victim, a drive to take action. Human beings are naturally wired to think that way, hence it’s the easiest way to connect with them using blame frame.

Example: You must have watched shampoo ads portraying how dandruff can make you bald, itchy and how you can lose your partners and jobs because of that.

b) Outcome Frame of Reference 

Outcome frame helps or push people to think about the possible solution and the end outcome if an action is taken. It is moving towards what you want. It delivers a sense of empowerment, ownership, accountability and need to work in collaboration.

Example: There are other shampoo ads that tell you – how silky, shiny, smooth and long your hair can get, if you use this product.

While it is evident that outcome frame looks more positive, however, sometimes presenter needs to take a call around which frame of reference will work best for a given set of audience. 

Typically, a blame frame followed by an outcome frame, will help get the desired output of the meeting. As a presenter, you must keep both in mind.

Summing Up

While POW is used as a tool to build a storyline, there are lot many tools that can help bring that “JAZZ” to your story! Example – A catchy headline, use of metaphors/analogies, raw nerves of the audience, humor, data representation etc.

Bindu Bhatia

MD & Founder of NeuCode Talent Academy, she has spent last 20 years in Leadership development, Coaching and driving talent & gender diversity agenda for multi-national clients across industry sectors and geographies.

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