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The Power of Storytelling in Internal Communications

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve got an important message or a new program to share at an employee meeting. You know it will be revolutionary, empowering team members to grow and drive performance. Yet the magic is somehow lost in translation. You look out over a sea of disinterested—or worse—bored faces.

Image of cowboys telling story around a fire

Now imagine what happens when you begin this way:

“Once upon a time…”

Did their ears perk up? Did they maybe even lean in? Just a little?

There’s a reason for that.

From the beginning of human time, stories have been the most effective way to pass on traditions, history, values and culture. To influence, persuade, rally, and pretty much get people to listen to and retain your message. And it’s about more than just being entertained.

Neuroscientists have discovered that there are chemical changes that occur in the human brain when we experience a good story. Oxytocin, that feel-good chemical that subtly and powerfully influences people to not only pay attention but to WANT to cooperate is released when we are emotionally engaged by the power of stories.

You don’t have to be Stephen Spielberg to tell a good story.

Stories have these elements in common:

  • A character we care about or relate to who wants something dear to him
  • Something or someone who gets in the way of what he wants
  • A breathless moment during which we’re very afraid our hero won’t get what he wants, and then, “Ah…” A turning point
  • Our hero either gets what he wants or doesn’t. But either way, he is changed forever and life settles into a new normal.

How can you achieve your business objectives with stories that engage, persuade, and move people to action? For starters, learn to see your communications in terms of:

  • Characters (team members, leaders, and customers)
  • Desires (objectives you & your audiences want to achieve such as a better working environment, a more engaged workforce, a more effective performance management plan)
  • Obstacles to achieving those desires (not enough money, inadequate systems and processes, the wiles of human nature)

Now go tell the story of how your hero climbed that mountain and planted his flag and be specific about how he did it. Your audience will want to climb that mountain with you.

Need help telling your stories? You’re in luck because that’s what we do here at Insight Strategic Communications. We help businesses tell their stories and get what they want, whether that’s buy-in for a new training platform or accelerating performance or engaging employees. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help with storytelling in internal communications (answers@insight-communication.com).

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