7 Storytelling Tips for Effective Leadership

12th Nov 2019
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Storytelling has been around for thousands of years. From ancient cave paintings to latest web series, stories have always fascinated humankind. Stories are, and have always been, a highly effective medium to relay a message.


This is why the art of telling a good story has become an essential leadership tool these days. Through the method of storytelling, leaders can emotionally connect with their colleagues, inspire their organisations, set strategic visions, and teach important lessons.


Here are 7 Storytelling Tips for Effective Leadership:


1. Be Sincere

Honesty is always the best policy in storytelling. A story about how the protagonist made a mistake and then learned from the same mistake is much more powerful than a story in which the protagonist cakewalks through a not-so-difficult conflict. Remember, it’s important to humbly portray some weakness to connect with others – even Superman has his Kryptonite!


Be Sincere



2. Use a Strong Inciting Incident

An event that sets the story in motion and hooks the audience into the story is known as an inciting incident. It is important to have a well-defined inciting incident that communicates to the audience that the protagonist’s actual journey has now begun. Use an inciting incident that has some sense of urgency to it, raises questions for the audience, and portrays the key characteristics of your protagonist.


3. The Conflict Connection

There’s no story without a conflict – which is basically the main problem the protagonist has to overcome or resolve in the entire story. As a leader, it is important to use a subject for the conflict that is relatable to the audience. A story about how the CFO convinced the Board of Directors to acquire another company will not relate to an audience comprising of mid-level sales managers. For this type of an audience, rather use a story about how a dissatisfied customer was won over again.


4. Use a Twist

Using a surprise in a story is a great way to get your audience to pay attention. The more unexpected the twist, the more the audience will suddenly sit up and engage with the narrative. Surprises, also, are much more memorable for the audience. 


Twist


5. Show; Don't Tell

This is a thumb-rule for storytelling. A story needs to show the scene-by-scene setup rather than simply tell it. Use more dialogue between characters instead of using narration. Think of the characters' different senses. What do they see? What do they hear? Specify the actions and reactions of the character. Showing, instead of telling, is a tried-and-tested way to transport the audience into a story.



6. Use the Economy of Words

Specific and concrete stories that are well edited are more memorable and engaging. Keep the vague generalities and the long descriptions to a minimum. Avoid text-bookish management jargon, and use a narrative that is contextual and concise.  


7. Conclude on a Positive Note

There needs to be an inspiring spark in a leader's story. Concluding a leadership story on a positive note will strongly convey this inspiring message to the audience. Ending a story with a motivating quote or an encouraging resolution will also make the story more memorable.


Inspiration



Remember, a great storyteller needs to be a keen observer and an exceptional listener. It is important to understand the audience well before starting an engaging narrative.

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