11 Storytelling Skills For Business Success
Updated October 3, 2022
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to share information and engage an audience, making it a top skill in many professional environments. There are many ways to tell a story, from writing a fictional narrative to taking a thoughtful photograph. Being a good storyteller can introduce you to a range of career opportunities and identify you as a powerful asset to employers.
In this article, we describe some of the top storytelling skills you can cultivate to help build a successful career.
Why is having storytelling skills important?
Having storytelling skills is important because they enable you to connect with other people, from colleagues to customers. Storytelling skills are especially critical in roles that involve marketing to an audience or sharing information with others. A good story can persuade, inform or entertain others depending on what kind of story you tell. You can use storytelling skills to convince your boss to approve a new project during a presentation, develop a brand identity for a company or help consumers imagine how buying a product could improve their lives.
Once you gain experience with the multiple applications of storytelling skills, you can transfer your experience to a range of professional environments. Being able to engage your storytelling skills to present a compelling narrative can help you align your actions in the workplace with a company's overall mission.
Top storytelling skills in business
There are several types of knowledge, skills and abilities involved with telling a good story. Understanding the various aspects of storytelling can help you accurately present your storytelling skills on a resume or identify areas where you can grow your storytelling abilities. Here are some of the top skills related to storytelling that you should emphasize in the workplace:
One of the most common ways people tell stories is through writing. Many companies seek to tell stories through their marketing copy and written content. Having the ability to write persuasive copy shows that you can tell a story with a direct goal of making a customer act. When you tell stories through engaging copywriting, you can engage your target audience by considering how your written content could make them feel about a product or brand.
Impression management is the process of identifying how the public feels about a company or product and trying to change that perception. As a storyteller, you should be able to predict how telling a certain story could impact the way others feel about you, your employer or your brand. If you can determine what others currently think about you, your work or your employer, you can use storytelling to either combat or reinforce those ideas. For example, writing a blog post featuring in-depth interviews with company executives about their charity work could make others associate your company with generosity and activism.
Part of telling a good story is getting directly to the point. While many stories may have extra details to add context or make the content more exciting, they should still focus on a main idea. Good storytellers are able to follow a logical flow of ideas that contribute to the primary purpose of a story. This involves learning how to concisely share ideas, eliminate distractions and ensure that a reader or listener engages with the story from start to finish.
Attention to detail
Details make stories feel more realistic and meaningful to readers. Paying attention to the details of a situation can help you choose a nuanced angle for each story. Good storytellers know which details to focus on based on what their target audience will connect with. In the workplace, you can use attention to detail as a way to adapt your pitches for the greatest chance of success. You can also leverage attention to detail when describing your experience in an interview by highlighting situations where you made a positive impact.
Successful storytellers are highly empathetic and focus on how other people think and feel. Understanding the point of view of your audience can help you determine what types of content would impact them the most. Using empathy when telling stories can help you select the most impactful vocabulary to describe a situation based on how you think your phrasing would make an audience feel. Businesses rely on empathetic storytellers to develop a company story and mission that others will relate to and connect with.
Regardless of whether you tell fictional or real-life stories, creativity is one of the most important tools you have as a storyteller. You need creativity to be able to connect events and ideas into a cohesive storyline. Creativity is especially helpful when coming up with examples in your story to demonstrate a point or relate directly to the audience. You'll use creativity to decide what platform and medium is the best way to tell your story.
Every effective story involves some sort of editing. To make your stories as impactful as possible in business, you must be able to self-edit your work. This starts in the brainstorming phase where you think of possible angles and ideas for incorporating stories into your work. As you develop a storyline, conflict, resolution and call-to-action, you'll use editing to keep the story focused and effective. You should also be able to proofread and edit for small details like grammar, spelling and voice that could distract the reader or disrupt their immersion in your story.
Incorporating storytelling into business strategy is a useful skill in any management position. Having strategic thinking skills can help you envision the long-term impact of your actions or a company's decisions. Predicting how various behaviors or initiatives could contribute to your organization's overall story can help you be thoughtful about the types of stories you tell and how you tell them.
In business, good storytellers should also have excellent branding skills. Using branding to tell a story can involve direct storytelling campaigns like blog posts or press releases. It can also include small details like selecting brand colors or using specific imagery in a brand's logo. Branding contributes to storytelling because it aims to tell a story about the brand's personality, values, growth and goals. Organizations that have a charitable mission or an interesting history rely on people with branding skills to represent a cohesive story about their products and services to customers.
Timing is one of the subtle skills involved with telling an effective story in business. Knowing when to introduce certain characters, events and other aspects of a story can help increase its impact and effectiveness. Good timing can build suspense, generate interest and provide the audience with a satisfying payoff that makes them want to hear more. You can utilize timing when deciding the best time to release a new post, where in a press release to make an announcement or how to introduce a new plot point in a fictional narrative.
Being funny and humorous is a great skill for any storyteller. Humor can help make complex or challenging topics more accessible to an audience. It can also personify a business and help customers relate more to the organizations they support. If you can be funny while telling a story, you can develop camaraderie with your audience and make them more receptive to the main goal of your story.
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