Corporate storytelling has been used in business for a long time because people are naturally storytellers and businesses are made up of people. However, the time has come to integrate narrative communication into the corporate culture with clear objectives in mind. Leaders who know how to weave a tale that pulls the listener in do more than just get a simple point across. They actually engage employees as part of the story. The corporate message becomes the workers’ personal message, creating a greater sense of belonging and even pride in being part of the organization. Engagement can then translate into higher productivity and better public relations.
Key Benefits of Storytelling for Internal Communication
Workers are tired of reading endless memos and other dry communications. When they hear a story instead, they can:
- Identify with the characters and situations (they don’t feel like they are just being “talked at”)
- Weigh the information presented and compare it to their own experience (increasing credibility)
- Understand their place in the narrative
- Pass on the story to others (adding their own perspective)
At the same time, using narrative communication affords leaders with greater flexibility. They can adapt the story to the particular audience for greater impact.
How Can Storytelling Be Presented?
Face-to-face interactions are the ideal mode for storytelling. Executives and other organizational leaders can make a profound impact by communicating directly with workers using the narrative style. It personalizes the message and reduces the feeling that “orders are being passed down from on high”. Social media, videos, newsletters, blogs and other modern communication platforms are also excellent for disseminating stories.
Situations That Call for Storytelling
When can a story be especially useful? The grand narrative of the organization should definitely be used starting with the onboarding process or even earlier during recruitment. This is the story that covers the overarching themes of:
New “chapters” can be added to this story yearly or even quarterly depending on the rate of transformation within the organization. Whenever a significant change is coming up, reiterating and reinforcing the story throughout the workforce can be particularly prudent. “Short stories” that touch on specific aspects of work such as safety and wellness can also be very useful. Perhaps the most potent use of storytelling is to spark innovation. This is the time to introduce new “plot twists” in the form of problems that require a solution. As employees engage with the story, they also engage their riddle-solving abilities. This naturally creates an environment of collaboration.