Business Storytelling in the Corporate World

Many of us understand the significance of storytelling and how it connects with people since time immemorial. But business storytelling is a different ball game. It is not like generic story telling with the help of folklore, fables, fairy tales, etc. It is neither sharing personal stories. The corporate audience cannot connect with these types of stories as many of them are cooked up or manipulated ones. Some of them may even get annoyed when clichéd motivational stories like ‘boy throwing starfish in the sea’, ‘donkey in the well dusting’, ‘little boy and the colour balloons’ as they would have heard them in many forums n number of times.

In business storytelling, the storyteller cannot share fake or imaginary stories. The stories need to be original from the corporate world. If not, the audience may find it difficult to connect with their day-to-day issues and challenges. In other words, the stories need to be authentic for a better connection with the audience. Business storytelling would revolve around incidents and anecdotes that happens in the enterprise world. At the end of the day, there is every possibility that the audience may go back and verify the authenticity of the story online. Let us understand the basic difference from personal storytelling vs business storytelling.

Personal Storytelling

  • Intent is to entertain, motivate and inspire
  • Stories can be fictional or semi-fictional
  • Personal stories revolve around the speaker and his/her kith and kin
  • Source of stories are personal experiences, folk-lores and historical events
  • Shared in informal set-ups like family gatherings, parties, non-professional events
  • Delivery mechanisms such as body language, vocal variety are more important than the content
  • Emotions play vital role compared to data and logic

Business Storytelling

  • Intent is not just limited to motivation and inspiration, but to brand and drive home core corporate values
  • Stories shall be original and authentic
  • Business stories revolve more around customers, team members and management more than the speaker
  • Sources of stories are often business case studies, corporate incidents, success stories and lessons learnt
  • Shared in corporate events like sales meets, team meets, customer presentations, launch of new initiatives
  • Content is more important than the delivery mechanism
  • Corporate experiences along with data and logic outnumber emotions

If you go to a corporate organization as a guest speaker just to motivate the employees, you may not bother too much about these. Instead, you can continue with your generic storytelling approach. But if you want to try out storytelling with your own stakeholders like team members, customers, management, do not settle down with a generic approach. Understanding the differences between personal storytelling and business storytelling from the above table is essential and a conscious effort should be taken towards focusing on authentic business anecdotes.
Happy business storytelling to you, fellow toastmasters!

DTM Dr.Sundararaman Chintamani
Meraki Advanced Toastmasters Club

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