Chris Meredith is an active member of Hub Hyde Park’s creative community.
He is a coach, teacher, facilitator, writer and thought leader in Creativity. His Masterclass series of training modules take place regularly in Sydney and Melbourne.
Imagine standing in front of a big audience of important clients and media types, with no script, no notes, and no idea what to do.
It happened to me a few years back after I’d stupidly believed an eager colleague would do me a favour by preparing all of my materials for me. (He did, but his stuff was unusable and I didn’t check beforehand. Duh!)
There was a moment as I took the stage, looked at the sea of expectant faces, and thought “this is going to be interesting – I wonder what I’m going to say.”
I decided my only option was telling the truth.
I talked from the heart about what the company did well, where it’ was weak and how we planned to fix it. A “warts and all” kind of thing.
Somehow it all came together. At the end of the talk, there was loud applause and a couple of journalists asked for transcripts of what I’d said for use in their magazines!
It was a seminal moment for me. How was it that, without preparation or notes I’d achieved a communication breakthrough that would have been impossible if armed with a crafted script and a set of powerpoint charts?
Something strange happens to people when they arrive at work or place of business. They seem to discard the powerful truths they’ve learned about life and people and become more machine-like and impersonal.
Language is often littered with weird words like “optimise”, “moving forward”, or “pivot point”.
Presentations are held in grey windowless rooms and people become ‘consumers’ or ‘stakeholders’ or whatever.
It’s gobbledegook, of course, and the truth is that no-one falls for it.
From a very early age, we learn to communicate through stories. They’re powerful things that provide a way of sharing what life is about. They help people ‘get’ the journey you’ve been on and the decisions you’ve made.
It means that stories really influence people when facts and logic don’t.
So, why do we so often forget or ignore the power of storytelling in business?
One key reason is that people are all too often afraid to bring themselves into the story. They believe that making the issue impersonal or ‘third party’ makes the argument more professional and easier to communicate.
“The process was comprehensive and the recommendation has now been agreed” might sound like a powerful and professional set of words, but they lack soul.
Deep down, the listener won’t really care. Or if they do, it’ll be because they’re wondering what you really think (and why it’s not revealed in the way you talk).
It’s time to be vulnerable and share your own personal story alongside your business argument.
Business stories need to be littered with your own personal feelings. Phrases like: “When I first started this project, I thought it couldn’t be done”. or “there have been moments along this journey when I felt that we were heading in the wrong direction” show your audience that you are vulnerable and are being you.
Your personal stories represent powerful facts that outweigh so-called ‘hard data’ like budgets, forecasts or revenue models. People (even business people) want to hear your story.
And if you’re brave enough to share it, they’ll love you for it.
There is an “I” in Story.
If you’re not yet a member of Hub Australia, but want to turn your business around by working alongside motivated people like Chris Meredith, contact the team at Hub Australia and take the first step in improving your business.
With locations in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, Hub Australia is bringing premium coworking to Australia’s growing businesses, offering tailored workspaces, a curated community and member services.