As I’m talking to more organisations about storytelling two phrases, keep cropping up. “It’s just what we do.” and “Nobody would be interested.” They’re dueling it out, but they’re not alone. Throw in the odd “does anyone care?” and “My stories are boring” and you have a flavour of the storytelling sentiment from many business owners.
When you’re so close to your day-to-day business – you lose sight of the fantastic stories that you have to tell. They pass you by. They slip through your fingers. Fall through the cliche.
Clients, partners, and colleagues tell me stories all the time. Stories that they take for granted – I find fascinating. My knee-jerk reaction now is to say – great; you need to share that. Telling stories is just part of who we are as human beings. We tell stories naturally every day of our lives. As business owners and leaders of organisations – we seem reluctant to set our stories free.
The ideal place to start is by becoming a committed Story Hunter
I live between the splendid cities of Dundee and Perth in Scotland. When I’m listening to the radio in the car, invariably I need to tweak the frequency as I move between the two cities. In other words – I need to tune in.
That’s what you need to do. You need to be constantly tuned into the stories that surround you as you go about your working day. But it’s not just about you as an individual – it’s about creating a storytelling culture throughout the organisation.
Here’s a list of the Types of Story you should be on the look out for.
Personal Origin Stories
You might think they’re self-indulgent, but stories about your journey help add a personal touch to your organisation. But it doesn’t have to be just about you. Stories about each of your team members will help share your collective personality.
The Founding Story
Whether you’re a 100-year-old business, or just launched last week, you have a foundation story. The ‘how you got here’ is interesting – but the ‘why’ you do what you do is so much more important.
The Philosophy Story
This can be a mix of ‘what we stand for’ and your overall vision for your business. It’s where you share your principles of doing business.
What we do stories
Simply stating we ‘build sheds’ or we ‘cut hair’ isn’t exactly memorable. But sharing a story from a Carpenter or Stylist about an aspect of their work certainly can be. People remember real stories. This will likely be your greatest story pool as you can get everyone in the organisation involved.
Sharing stories about your vision for the future of your industry and your business positions you as a thought-leader. You might read an article online that sparks something in you. Capture your thoughts and share your perspective.
Every Day Stories
Find the everyday personal stories that we all relate to. If a member of your team has a baby, tell the story. If you run a marathon, share your experiences. The lines between the personal and business version of ‘you’ have never been more blurred.
Tell the stories of how you have helped others. And don’t settle for weak, pithy testimonials. Create a case study to tell a richer story of how you made a difference to your clients. Well structured success stories will improve your business.
You can’t create all of your stories at once, but you can, and you must capture them. Here are some quick ideas on how to do that.
Simple Text Document
Create a text document and just list the story idea on a new line. Use bullets if you really must!
Add a new note to Evernote and categorise as ‘story’ so that you can quickly find them.
If you already collaborate using Google Drive, use that as a central story store. (Other collaboration tools are available!)
I’m ridiculed for many reasons – my MindMap obsession is just one of them! If you are ‘a freak like me’ then maybe capturing your story ideas in this way would help.
Most phones have an audio record function. If you can’t write it down, just record your thoughts.
I’ll add a more detailed post about capturing your story ideas – but for now, just keep it simple. And remember if it looks like, smells like or feels like a story – capture it.
And please, never take your stories for granted again.
P.S. Enrol for my free 5 Week ‘Case Study Code’ Email Course by entering your name and email below.
P.P.S. You can listen to a short audio version of this post on Anchor.
I'm a storyteller, case study specialist and the founder of The Story Edge. I want more people to tell more stories. I write stories, teach people to do the same and generally encourage people to use storytelling in their business.