Storytelling tips for companies: How not to suck.

From our thought leader partners at Root Inc., find out how not to suck at telling your organization's story:

When good stories go bad

We all have one—that friend who begins to tell you a story, and regardless of how interesting the story should be, he or she totally butchers it. You desperately try to cling on, but somewhere along the way your mind wanders… you start thinking about dinner/your sports team’s latest failings/that thing you’ve forgotten to do…and then you are back in the room—completely lost.

“That’s great!” you lie to your friend as you bury your face in your drink of choice. Everybody has a story; some people just suck at telling stories.

We’ve also all had that same experience at work. A leader is standing in front of a very swanky PowerPoint deck with graphs, charts, bells and whistles. Yet 20 minutes in, you glance down your neatly arranged row and two of your peers are checking email on their smart phones. You suddenly realize you forgot to eat breakfast and wonder if anyone will notice if you sneak to the back of the room to snatch a company provided muffin that you failed to spot on the way in. Then WHOOSH, you’ve missed three slides—where was he?

Was it your fault for zoning out? Does this mean you’re a horrible employee? Probably not. Every company has a story; some companies just suck at telling their story.

Companies that tell (good) stories see higher engagement

We’ve been speaking about the importance of engaging employees at work forever, yet global engagement scores have barely shifted in the last decade. We know people are engaged, they just aren’t necessarily engaged at work. We can do better!

It starts with getting really good at immersing your people in the compelling story of your business. But to do this, you need to ensure people don’t nod off, daydream or plan what they’re having for dinner while the story is being told.

3 tips for telling the compelling story of your business

Here are three tips to elevate your organization’s storytelling game (hover over or click on the round icons below to view more):

1. Don’t use PowerPoint.

 We have an expression at Root: “There are three things that kill people; lead, asbestos and PowerPoint.” Whenever we say it, people laugh—and they laugh because it’s true. The only person the PowerPoint presentation really resonates with is the person who built it.

2. Personality alone won’t cut it.

Your leader’s personality and ability to communicate effectively is definitely a big positive, but when we’re talking about engaging the hearts and minds of potentially hundreds and thousands of people, that will only take you a fraction of the way.

3. The greatest stories are the ones you discover for yourself.

Remember that film the Sixth Sense? The entire pay-off of the movie was its twist. [spoiler alert!]  Unfortunately for me, someone told me the plot line, including its defining twist, before I watched the film. Can you imagine how dull that film was for me already knowing Bruce Willis was dead?

Find out more and get the full story (it's a good one):

Every Company Has A Story; Some Companies Just Suck At Telling Stories
by Chris Williams


Photo at top:

Jason Rosewell

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Root logoRoot Inc. is an Advantage Performance Group thought leader partner in our network of best-in-class learning providers. The world’s most respected organizations rely on Root to realize positive transformative, strategic or culture change. Through our research-driven disruptive methodologies, we can help you create meaningful and lasting change.

Chris Williams

Managing Director at Root Inc.

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