Storytelling for Business

by Nick Owen

Why use stories in a business context?

There are many reasons for using stories. Below are some of the most compelling.

  • Stories are the most natural form of communication. We use them all the time, even when we are not aware of doing so. Our brains are hard wired to pay attention to them and store any learning from them in our memory.
  • Stories make immediate sense of reality because they are contextual, experiential and multi-sensory.
  • Stories open the listener to new possibilities and ideas – to things that hadn’t been thought about before.
  • Stories reinforce information and relationships.
  • Stories get attention because they are different from the way business messages are normally communicated. This is great, because the brain pays attention to what is unusual rather than what is commonplace.
  • Stories create value and challenge existing ways of doing things.
  • Stories suggest and show rather than tell and direct; most people find this approach much more respectful.
  • The information is also stored deeper in the unconscious mind.
  • Stories foster creativity, awareness and vision.
  • Stories integrate logic and emotion, reason and imagination.
  • Stories are a delightful game and an utterly serious strategic intervention.
Business data

An interpretation of a recent research paper by a renowned US academic concluded that business narratives and stories, told in the service of effective persuasion and influence, accounted for some 14 per cent of US GNP, or to put it another way... over one trillion US dollars!