It’s a Sunday afternoon and rain is lashing against your window. Inside your warm, cosy home, you’re curled up on the sofa. You’re lost in a story, a book that you simply cannot put down.
Or, you may be watching an amazing film which is so gripping that you just can’t pause it and put the kettle on.
Yesterday, a Danny Boyle film about a singer/songwriter who becomes one of a handful of people in the world who can remember the Beatles, connects with us because we understand his story of struggle and persistence, we all have the shared experience of knowing and loving the Beatles songs in the film, and we share a gasp-out-loud moment with the main character. (No spoilers here for those who haven’t seen it!)
Many of us went to the cinema and felt the hour and 57 minutes it took to screen it flew by.
We were totally engaged with the film.
You’re experiencing a story as if you’re inside it.
The best stories are those which resonate with our experience.
We identify with characters who persevere against the odds, with situations we’ve experienced ourselves, and with the hopes and dreams we share with those characters.
We react with empathy and look for connections.
The Harry Potter books and films have created generations of fans because of that emotional connection they feel to the main characters such as Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and Hagrid.
They feel righteous anger when Hermione is tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, fear for their heroes when they enter the Ministry of Magic in disguise, and they root for Harry in his battle with Voldemort.
We become lost in a magical world.
Have you ever listened to someone’s story intently and been captivated by it?
As you stand there in front of the storyteller, your brains are synching.
Neuroscientists have researched this phenomenon. They carried out MRIs on listener and storyteller and found their brains lit up in the same way.
Your brain is reacting as if you are experiencing that story yourself and you feel connected.
Think how often the best stand-up comedians such as Sarah Millican, Stewart Lee, Dave Allen, and Joan Rivers have used stories as the basis for their comedy.
Stories have power.
The empathy stories create helps businesses reach potential clients or customers.
It also helps clients along their decision-making process.
Most people don’t just buy using logic and data. They use emotions to make that purchasing decision, so it’s important to create an emotional connection.
How can I use stories to connect with my customers?
- Use your website’s About Us page – Telling your story as a business helps clients connect with your purpose. People often need to know why you do what you do before they will commit to spending money. Tell them about your story, your values, and your goals. Replicate it for print products such as brochures or flyers.
- Share case studies – How did you help a customer through a difficult situation? How did you ensure a successful outcome? What challenges did you face?
- Share reviews or testimonials – These can often act as mini-stories to show how you solved a client’s problem. They are most powerful when the people leaving reviews are willing to be identified and when reviews are left on independent sites.
- Your networking pitch – Use stories to connect with potential clients or collaborators in your networking pitches, from the usual 60-second pitch to the longer five or ten-minute presentation.
- Your business book – If you tell your story in your business book, your readers will connect with your insights.
- Get your employees on board – Make them the purveyors of your story, the best advocates and story-tellers you could have. Listen to Anita Roddick, the late, great founder of The Body Shop: “The lesson of preindustrial societies is storytelling. All our employees should be storytellers.”
Do you need help telling your story? Contact us for advice and support.