Three ways to tell great business stories

by L&D03 May 2016
A leader merely has to share a story or two to set them apart from the rest because most leaders communicate entirely with opinion and lofty abstractions, according to Shawn Callahan, storytelling consultant and author of Putting Stories to Work.

Indeed, a message really sticks when leaders illustrate their point with a real life experience in the shape of a story, said Callahan.

“Thankfully, we have a great head-start because we are already storytellers,” he said.

“For example, when we’re chatting with colleagues at a cafe we will recount one story after another without giving it a thought. We just don’t see it.”

Callahan added that with practice finding and sharing a story to illustrate your point will become a habit and your repertoire of stories will grow.

“In time stories will pop to mind just when you need them. When stories become part of the way you communicate your ability to influence, engage and inspire as a leader will soar,” he said.

To make stories visible and bring this intuitive skill we all have into our business communications, Callahan said we need to keep in mind three things:

1. Notice your experiences so you can share them to make a point. Practice spotting stories over at Many good stories are right under our nose. Just stop and think about what’s happened in the last 24 hours and ask yourself, can any of these experiences illustrate a point I want to make? If, yes, jot it down.

2. Know the business point of your story? Don’t tell it until you’ve thought about the point and then preface your story with it. For example, say “Effective leaders are good storytellers.” And then tell the story to illustrate what you mean.

3. Be specific and share a moment in time rather than a generalised, high-level story. The specific moment will help people see what’s happening and the audience will feel it and remember what you’ve said.

Related stories:

What L&D can learn from The Big Short 

Why L&D professionals should all be storytellers