- If you're telling stories for business, you typically need to do two things. You need to reach an audience. And then you wanna build that audience to make it your own. And to do this, you need to understand who they are, and what they want. Religious parables actually are a great example of getting this right. If you think back to religious stories, they often speak in terms that the audience of the day understood. So whereas a parable about sheep or fish today might not be totally relatable. It might seem anachronistic, back in the day when sheep and fish were the thing that you did, those parables made sense.
The analogies that we use today in business appeal to ourselves in our modern times. And understanding what an audience cares about, the terms at which they view the world. That's gonna help you be able to connect with them. And build them to become your own audience. So the obvious is understanding the vocabulary. The language that your audience uses. For example, I once gave a speech at a credit union conference. And they said beforehand, do not say the word customers at this conference. Because in a credit union our customers are called members.
If you say customers, they're gonna ignore the rest of what you have to say. And they're not gonna be loyal to your message. But if you say members, they will feel like you understand them. And you understand us. So remember what is the vocabulary of the audience that you're trying to reach. And the less obvious is understanding the white space. As we as a society have more and more screens in front of us, more stories coming at us. More content coming at us. We as the story teller, need to understand where there's room for us to add something new and great.
You can use data to determine this. You can make Venn diagrams of overlapping interests. You can use social media to actually determine some of this. But you can also make spider charts of who the audience cares about. And who they might care about. So it might be completely obvious that someone who likes minivans also likes minivan supplies. Someone who likes minivans probably also has a family. They probably care about their family. They probably care about children. So when you think of audience, think in terms of the people that they might care about. Not just the products that they might also want.
But when all else fails, understand that the audience is human. People are multifaceted. If you're B2B, don't think that people at the other end of your business to business relationship are robots that only love business. They probably also love television, and their families, and lots of other things. The fantastic thing about thinking of story telling in terms of building audience is that once you have the audience, it's yours. Wherever you go they will follow. They'll be loyal to you. The next thing you do, they'll listen. This is the way that businesses are being built today.
It's what you need to do. And you need to keep telling stories. You don't just tell one story, you have to continually cultivate and develop this audience. It's like Martin Luther King said, if I stop preaching to the choir, they'll stop singing.
- The science of great stories
- The elements of effective storytelling
- Building relationships via storytelling
- Selling with storytelling
- Building and engaging audiences
- Using storytelling frameworks like the Ben Franklin method