Monday, July 13, 2009

Three Secrets Storytelling Reveals About Your Business or Nonprofit Organization

Knowing storytelling techniques is not a "fluffy" or soft skill for your business. Just as your accountant needs to have strong skills in numbers and laws, so must all your staff and volunteers learn storytelling, both creating and listening.

As good accounting can be a barometer about your company so does storytelling give you a picture of your organization's health. Like the ledger, business storytelling reveals truth about your organization. No matter if your company has just a single entrepreneur or a payroll of thousands, pay attention to these revelations.

1. Storytelling reveals what your customers really think. Gathering customer stories tells you what is truly happening. No matter what organizational myth you might have, the real truth comes from your customers. There is a reason the "Emperor's New Clothes" is such a popular story for so many generations. Are you going to be caught naked someday because you did not truly listen to your client's real stories?

2. Storytelling reveals who is really paying attention. Your company should make it a point to conduct regular sessions of story gathering from employees and management. Processes like my "Intentionality"(tm) activity help anyone in any company create stories about everyday experiences. Like a Board that cannot tell you about the company ledger, be very afraid of any upper management that never has new stories of the company. Stories of how the powerful are deposed are very common in world folktales. Is your CEO paying attention- even if the CEO and the janitor are the same person in your small business?

3. Storytelling reveals your organization's ability to adapt to change. For survival, your ledger needs to show some reserve funds for your metaphorical "rainy day." So, too, stories of change show how your company has the readiness and acceptance of the inevitable shifts in the market. Are you prepared for everything to change tomorrow? Are you stuck in the same old ways? Can you make a list, right now, of the stories that show how your nonprofit or business has adapted to change? You do not have past stories of change management and adaptability in your company? You are in for a rough future.

Corporate stories and skills in business storytelling, yes even storytelling for financial advisors, are as valuable to your group as good accounting. Are you giving storytelling the attention it deserves?

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.


  1. Hi Sean

    Wonderful post! Just wanted to add that not only are stories not fluffy, they are the authentically persuasive nuggets of content that sell your business. Stories are the closest thing a prospective client can come to experiencing what it is to work with your company and you. And so are imperative when selling your company. I will be watching your posts more often, now that I have found you.

    Sandra Zimmer
    Author: It's Your Time to Shine: How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking, Develop Authentic presence and Speak from Your Heart

  2. Love it. I like the way you note that it can show who's really paying attention and who's just mailing it in. Storytelling isn't a soft skill, it's the key to effective communication.