Irrespective of the profession you are in, one thing you need to do on a daily basis is communicate. That’s true even if you are sorting mails for postal service or writing software pieces from the privacy of your room or operating a train engine. There’s shouldn’t be any big deal about communication since that’s what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom – the multi-layered sophisticated and rich methods of communication we’ve established. We write, we speak, we sing, we dance, we do body language, gestures, facial expressions, non-facial expressions and to beat it all, some of us have gotten around to establishing a language in the freaking silence. But, it is and we also have miscommunication, misunderstanding and misinformation happening all around us.
So as important as it is to communicate and the craft that it apparently is, here’s why story telling is so important to this craft –
- Story telling evokes listening like nothing else. Other art forms that can be used to communicate like poetry, pictures, movies, articles etc do not resonate with with every single person on the face of earth. Start telling a story and you’d notice active almost-childlike listeners across the room. Story telling has a universal audience. Period
- It works across ages and cultures – it is, in fact, a global phenomenon and no country, culture or religion even exists without stories to tell (unless you wanna really fillet the hair). Kids grow up listening to bedtime stories, grandparent stories and the craving for listening to and telling stories is still there in the oldest of the veterans
- There must be a reason why history is told in stories. Of course, it is told in other means as well however, not a single civilization or phase in history would exist without any stories whatsoever. I’d say other materials are supplementary. This is the real sh*t. And I believe, our ancestors knew the effectiveness of this medium
- Transmission is not communication without reception. Important part of communication is reception and you can ensure your communication is being received by story telling reducing the risk of your transmission just staying a broadcast
- Being a verbal and a free form, it allows for better leverage to put the message across unambiguously unlike some other media where little to large parts are left subject to interpretation
- Here’s the best part – you can actually embed story telling techniques in any other forms of communication and it’ll work just the same. Pictures, presentations, articles, songs. Fits right in
- Story telling encourages participation of the audience (of course when the communication channel allows for it). It brings out the Why’s and How’s even from the quietest audience
- Sets the right mood in the audience as required by the subject as it allows you to drive
- Stories have better recall than any other communication form undeniably. Even when re-told, the recalled version won’t be too far away from the original one keeping the key pieces intact
- Besides, there’s no better way to say anything worth telling, is there?
So the next time you are preparing for a product demo or a status review or a presentation to an audience made of leaders, peer or team members, consider putting it in a story. It could be a linear progression of events, layers of information one after the other, converging pieces of information or anything else. There are enough techniques of story telling out there to fit your need – once you commit.