Updated: Jan 11
Storytelling has become another buzz word in the business world. Another soft skill no one ever talked about in school or training but is suddenly being written about all the time. What makes storytelling so important? The simple answer is stories make us feel, trust, and empathize.
Stories are the key to human connection and relatability. Whether you tell a story during a formal presentation or just to a friend, the listener gets a glimpse of who you are. They learn about your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and values. They emotionally connect with you, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears. They may share a sense of pride with you or anger at an injustice. This is how you connect with an audience. The less perfect and more authentic the story, the more your listeners relate to you. The more they relate to you, the more likely they are to trust you. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to buy your product or service.
Storytelling compels us to empathize with the speaker or the main character of the story. This is true, even when they are anti-heroes, like Walter White in the television series Breaking Bad, or Arthur Fleck in the film The Joker. Not only do we empathize with them, we find ourselves rooting for them. We are captivated by their journey and feel their joy and stress, and pain when they do. Just think, if you read about the terrible crimes these characters commit or heard about their actions on a one -minute news segment, you would think they should go to jail for life.
Storytelling is the key to empathy and relatability, which is why you should always include a personal story in a presentation or sales interaction. If you don’t share a personal story, then your audience doesn’t know who you are, they don’t have a way to connect with you, and therefore, they won’t care what you have to say. Put another way, if an audience does not relate to you, they will not listen to you.
One of my favorite life lessons from Maya Angelou is, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is why storytelling is so important. It is the key to human connection, trusting relationships, compelling presentations and closing sales.