We all have a friend or colleague who can tell a good tale. You know, that person you can always rely on to turn what could be the most mundane activity or circumstance into a real tale. They make it come to life. It’s the way they tell it. Their stories are memorable, you might even go on to tell someone else their story at a later date and no doubt, you’ll want to hear another one next time you see them.
That, in a nutshell, is the importance of storytelling.
Meaning and purpose
Storytelling has always been around if not quite forever, something
approaching it. And for very good reason. If told well, stories give meaning and purpose. They make you distinctive, they make you stand out and importantly they enable you to engage with your audience. Even before we had all developed the ability to speak, there was still storytelling. This also applies in the business world too. And yes, even in the public sector.
Storytelling – a place in the public sector?
Storytelling forms an important part of the CHERISH programme included in my book, How To Survive Austerity, particularly at the Reportage stag. Whatever organisation or business sector you work in, you instinctively recognise the importance of developing a narrative (a good story) to enable you to communicate with your chosen audience – be it internal or external.
And increasingly this is becoming fundamental within the public sector. We all have a story to tell – what’s yours? Go on, write it down now. And then reduce it down to a single line. And then post that line in the comments section below. Share your story and don’t be shy to do it.
Those of you working in the public sector may think your story involves change, pressure, austerity and the unknown. Is that story going to engage the people that matter? The public? What type of narrative can you develop to tell people about the job that you do, the service you deliver and the impact that it has on the rest of your organisation, the public and in local communities?
Key things to consider
Before you embark on your storytelling, maybe what you need to think about will include the following:
- Your story – what makes you distinctive, what makes you different?
- Your audience – who do you want/need to communicate and engage with? And remember there can be more than one audience.
- Messages – what are the messages you want to tell? And if there’s more than one audience are there different messages for each?
- The response – How do you want your audiences to respond? Sometimes we’re looking for an action – to vote, make a purchase, sign a petition etc. Other times we just want to make them think about an issue, or look at an issue or organisation in a different light.
- Impact – What kind of impact do you want your story to have? These are usually good indicators of your success and and narrative should be developed with these in mind.
Developing your story and a storytelling ‘strategy’ will require some effort but once you have it finalised it will become second nature and become a key part of your “pitch” and overall communication activities.
In the second part of this blog I’ll discuss the different mediums you can use to engage with your chosen audiences. And if you want to understand what a good story looks like, it would be remiss of me to encourage you to read more about it in my book, How to Survive Austerity.