What’s your story?
Author Phillip Pullman said: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Storytelling is as old as mankind, so by now we all know that even the simplest of stories can elicit emotions. In fact, we are physically hardwired to react, with research showing that stories can trigger the release of oxytocin in our brains – the same chemical released during laughter, exercise and even sex.
But not only do stories speak to the deepest parts of our soul, they also have the ability to change behaviour and help us understand. Think back to your own childhood for a moment, when life’s biggest lessons were embedded within captivating stories, like your favourite nursery rhyme perhaps, or in maths class when John who had three apples gave one of them to Mary.
The reality is stories are far more persuasive than just stating facts – we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it’s delivered with a story. In other words, how we say something is just as important as what we’re saying. And while most brands these days are great at using stories to help connect with external audiences, they often underestimate the power of storytelling when it comes to reaching and connecting with their internal audience.
So how can you take a storytelling approach to your internal communications?
- Know your audience: take the time to research and learn about your audience across all levels of the company. What are their needs and interests? What issues matter to them most at the moment?
- Be interesting, bold, and creative: be willing to step outside of the internal communications rulebook.
- Get personal: the best way to pull your audience in is by finding a human angle. No matter how dull or bland the subject matter, there is almost always a human interest angle to be found.
- Variety is the spice of life: make use of different kinds of content (video, written, blogs etc) – across a number of different platforms.
Utilising these storytelling techniques can help to effectively communicate a message while captivating and inspiring audiences. Researchers, Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J. Elliot, found that being in a state of inspiration is associated with optimism, greater task involvement, openness to an experience, a moment of clarity and an awareness of new possibilities – all things that are vital to employee engagement.