Why Aren’t You Using More Stories? Here’s Why They Matter

The “human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor,” says Jonathan Haidt in a story last week in Scientific America. If you haven’t read it yet take some time to and think about the implications for your B2B business. Stories are a powerful tool not just because of the way we think, but because of they help make connections to people — your stakeholders.

Aaron wrote in a previous post about Corning and its storytelling around making glass and I wrote before about three ways stories can help your brand. But does this mean you have to change all that you’ve done with key messages? Do you need to update your website? No, of course not.

Take some time now to think about the last project your worked on. Maybe it was a media interview or an internal meeting with colleagues or even just a coffee with a vendor to talk about planning. Did you use a story to get your point across? If not, why?

Historical stories give meaning. Our brands have histories and these are great ways to tell stories and remind your stakeholders about how your company/culture was formed, how a product developed or why strategic decisions where made. You not only can use stories to show how something developed, but stories bring your thoughts, ideas and decisions to life. For example, when I was with Accenture I remember hearing the story many times at how the name was created. That story became part of its culture around employees working together.

My son loves comic books (okay, so do I), which are great examples of storytelling.
My son loves comic books (okay, so do I), which are great examples of storytelling.

Stories make a point. Have you ever struggled during a meeting to get people to understand what you need? I know I have. Or worse, have you had to sit through a presentation that was lifeless? What I like about stories is that they can take a dry subject, or a subject that is only of interest to you, and give it shape, form and color. Essentially, it helps others understand what you want.

Stories help make the complex simple. I’ve worked in several industries that have involved very complex technologies or products. Reminding spokespeople to use stories can give a very technical product an interesting angle. The best spokespeople I have ever used all have one common trait — they tell good stories. You should encourage this as much as you can.

Stories make you…human. At the end of the day people like working with people. Using stories in your presentations or interviews makes you more believable and trustworthy to your audience. And while we are helping our companies sell products or services, we are really trying to build relationships.