My mother was a journalist and my father was a seaman. Dad told better stories. Mom was sensible, forthright and logical. Dad had sea monsters, pirates, and a dozen different versions of how he came to have a wooden leg.
For centuries, people have used stories to pass along history, to teach morals, to further political arguments, to influence behavior, or simply to entertain.
While most of us have told a short, imaginative story to a child, few people think of themselves as particularly adept storytellers. Storytelling is an art that can be learned, and a good story will always find a receptive audience.
In business, we spend too much time thinking about elevator pitches, unique selling propositions and points of differentiation, and not enough time thinking about how we can deliver those elements more effectively.
We’re too busy telling people that our company is a leader, or about the awards we’ve won. Clients want to be entertained and intrigued. Sharing a story creates a personal connection that cannot be forged by mere facts alone.
Think of the stories your product has to tell that customers might find interesting.
“This is the garden-view room the Dalai Lama usually books.”
“Our restaurant serves breakfast 24 hours a day. It’s a tradition that was started when Elvis ordered an omelet at 7 p.m.”
“That’s one of the rooms that Martha Stewart personally decorated.”
“Our airport courtesy car is a classic 1934 Rolls Royce limousine once owned by Gloria Swanson.”
Of course, your stories need to be true, but they exist and are just waiting to be told.
Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and forget the pitch. Instead, tell a story that will capture your client’s imagination. Allow them to share your story by making it their story as well.
Above all, speak from the heart. That’s where good stories are born.
Scott H. Lewis is managing director for the CIS region of Signature Europe. A former journalist and public relations counselor, he has provided crisis, public speaking and presentation training to senior executives across Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. He is the author of “The Widows Dance,” an anthology of short fiction set in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he has lived for more than a decade.