8 Storytelling Secrets Every Business Leader Should Know

Many people love stories, but few people tell good stories. To succeed in business, we need to tell good stories so people will listen and take action.
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"Mum, can we watch The Lion King?"

Disney movies are interesting. Their stories make you laugh, cry, and laugh again. They teach you important lessons.

Many people love stories, but few people tell good stories.

To succeed in business, we need to tell good stories so people will listen and take action.

I sat down with one of the best storytellers I know, Dr. Nick Morgan. He shared 8 secrets that can help us tell stories more effectively:

1. Say no to anecdotes
"I went to New York City last Saturday. I saw Brad Pitt going into a grocery store." That's an anecdote. No drama. No conflict. Boring.

'I was in a shopping mall and saw paparazzi chasing after Brad Pitt. He ran to the changing room and yelled, "Help me!"' This story has a conflict, hero and villain(s). Interesting.

2. Use the right detail
Most leaders tell stories with too much detail. They may say, "I met Jim on Wednesday. You don't remember Jim? Anyway, I know it was Wednesday because I always go bowling that day. I was wearing bowling shoes that day. No, I wasn't wearing bowling shoes. It must be Tuesday when I met Jim."

Who cares? We don't care about bowling shoes and somebody named Jim we don't remember.

Throw away irrelevant details. Introduce the conflict as soon as possible. People love drama.

3. Relate to your audience
Your audience doesn't care what you had for lunch. They want stories that relate to their own lives.

Share a story of somebody overcoming challenges and achieving success. Make the audience imagine themselves as the hero.

Invite the audience to your story. For example, say, "Imagine you're with me at the hotel lobby, you could be see me waiting impatiently."

Relate to the audience so they'll find your story interesting and pay attention.

4. Start with the conflict
Make sure the audience can relate to your conflict. They may relate to the fear of getting fired or breaking up with their partner.

If you're a senior executive, don't say, "I was sitting in my limousine and I asked the driver, "What's life like for you common people?" The employees will hate you and stop listening.

Focus on what you and the audience have in common. When we can imagine ourselves in the story, we find it interesting.

5. Talk about your failures
While people like success stories, they don't want to hear, "I made millions of dollars and lived happily ever after." They want to hear how you failed at first, how you solved the problem, and became successful. They want to become successful too.

6. Share your passion
How to find interesting stories? Start with your passion. What do you care about in business? What makes you excited about life?

I was passionate about podcasting and wanted to give business presentations effectively. But there were no great podcasts that feature speaking tips from successful people. I created a podcast called, The Expressive Leader. I interviewed successful leaders such as Guy Kawasaki, Nancy Duarte and Michael Port. I become a great speaker and help thousands of business leaders improve public speaking.

What are you most passionate about?

7. Record your rehearsal
Record yourself in video so you know how well you performed. Watch the rehearsal. Write down what you like and don't like about your performance, especially body language and use of voice.

Like your high energy? Keep it. Hate your poor eye contact? Focus on improving eye contact. Speak to the audience like you're talking to friends.

8. Use open body language
When seeing a speaker, we ask, " Is this person a friend or an enemy?" If the speaker is unfriendly, we see him as an enemy and stop listening.

Make friends with your audience. Use open body language to build trust.

Don't hide your hands in pockets. Show your hands.

Don't fold your arms. Open your arms.

After the interview with Nick, I threw away all documentaries. Those were boring anecdotes.

I watched The Lion King for the 17th time. I laughed, cried and laughed again.

What's your favourite story? What's your number one storytelling tip? I look forward to reading your comments.

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