Everyone Loves A Good Story

In corporate communications, storytelling has long been recognized as a successful tool to communicate important messaging. It’s easier to reach employees with engaging content that pertains to them. People want to read about people – the faces behind the words. Image

Of course, the power of storytelling extends beyond the workplace. We might enjoy a good story at a party, over a gossipy lunch with the gals, or while reading weekly issues of our favorite magazines.

Okay. So we’ve established that people love a good story but do we ever think about why we’re so attracted to the technique?

The love of stories dates back to our childhood. How many times did our parents read us a story when they tucked us in at night? Their soothing words would lull us into a deep sleep. We felt comforted by the strong bonds that formed. And a good night story was our opportunity to wind down after a long day of school and homework.

Fast forward to adulthood and not much has changed. Effective storytelling provides escapism. Whether it takes place at a water cooler in the office or on the phone with a friend, storytelling is our chance to relate, engage, and entertain. Without storytelling, there would be no rapports. It’s an opportunity to share and keep things personal – whether you’re in an office or enjoying a Friday happy hour with friends.

Without storytelling, we wouldn’t be human. It’s what connects us. If we didn’t have it, we’d all be machines, just carrying out our day-to-day tasks with a bit of small talk here and there, at best.

Having covered a plethora of conferences over the years, I’m pleased to see more executives relating their own personal experiences to connect with audiences. And it’s working: surveys are revealing that employees want to hear from bosses, and that they want to feel connected to companies’ visions, missions, and values. It’s those stories that will help keep staff feeling connected. Effective internal communications tools will help to ensure that employees will also receive a voice and have the chance to share their own stories and experiences inside the company.

Thanks to social media, we all have platforms where we can share stories, whether they’re on Facebook or on a blog post like this one.

Storytelling helps us to feel, to empathize, to understand, to appreciate, to take action, to vent, to connect. It keeps things real.

A meeting of the minds in Midtown

Sometimes I forget how much I love conferences. Maybe because I’m usually flying solo working out of my home office. But when like-minded communicators come together to share knowledge and best practices, you can’t beat it.

Toby Ward and the folks at Prescient Digital always put on a good event and this year’s Intranet Global Forum was no different. “Global” it was – speakers came to present from Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada and of course, the U.S.

Dennis Agusi from Philips (pictured below) explained the lighting/consumer healthcare/electronics company’s journey into into internal social media including the launch of its very own video channel. Image

Organizational communications consultant Shel Holtz presented on employee ambassadors and social media, the use of the tool to communicate during a crisis, and the types of questions employees tend to have that need answering.

Jonathan Anthony – Director of Corporate Communications at Teekay – discussed the launch of the company’s enterprise social network, while Victor Aviles from AIG gave useful tips on how to make the business case for a new intranet. AIG’s intranet strategy: Show and prove. Then repeat. And: take it one prioritized feature at a time.

Of course, what would a conference be without networking? The cocktail reception provided ample opportunities for attendees to mingle and share pain points as communicators. The biggest issue people tend to experience: working as a one-man band on a limited budget, and helping executives become comfortable with internal social media adoption.

Ah, some things never change…