We all love stories and we all love to tell stories. The line of a narrative, with colorful characters, personal touches and suspense and excitement, captures us and engages our imagination.
Why then do we lose touch with the power of story-telling when we approach our business life? Do we think it’s self-indulgent? Exposing? A risk?
Storytelling can bring topics to life in ways that our traditional methods of sharing business information can’t, the Center for Creative Leadership points out in a recent post. Trust the power of storytelling and the instinct to share, CCL says.
I saw the power of this approach earlier this week when I opened up a speech I was giving to a group of luxury real estate agents at a conference in Beaver Creek.
I wanted to find a way to illustrate the profound shift that has occurred among affluent Americans as a result of the economic contraction — something that would capture the essence of the change and put a face to the different statistics I was about to share.
An incident on the plane flying out to Vail sprung to mind. As we were getting ready to pull out of the gate, an agent came on board and asked whether anyone in the packed plane would be willing to give up their seat. The gentleman sitting next to me in First Class — a well-groomed and obviously experienced business traveller — raised his hand and asked, “What will you give me?” The agent was surprised; he hadn’t expected someone from the front of the plane to volunteer. “Will you give me an international round trip ticket?” the man asked. “I can do that,” the agent said.
While people clapped and the man gathered his belongings, I asked what had prompted the offer. "My son is graduating this year and I'd like to give him a trip somewhere fun. I don't need to be anywhere this evening and I figured, why not get something free?"
Off he went, the CEO and owner of a mid-sized manufacturing company, to spend the night in a hotel, a free ticket voucher in his hand.
That's the new face of luxury: Looking for a deal, keeping their standards high.
As I told the story, I saw knowing smiles across the room. I'd made a connection. My point was real. I could start the speech.
That can be the power of telling a story.