01 Sep Why storytelling matters in business
My love affair with storytelling began when I was five years old and sitting at the feet of a storyteller in Connemara in the west of Ireland. He used to gather us all on winter nights and tell us stories of the young King of Ireland, or Finn McCool, or local stories of the wild deeds of wilder people.
What intrigued me was, not just the stories, but also the way the stories would make us feel. His words and the images he painted with them used to transport us from that cold stone floor to the Eastern world or the Plains of Ireland or to a magical place where anything could happen. I would look at the other children, with their open mouths and wonder filled eyes and wonder where they had gone in their imaginations.
In later life I promoted comedy clubs in Galway and the same thing would happen. Instead of focusing on the comedian, I would stare at the crowd and watch in awe at the physical reaction the stories and jokes would produce. Later still, I began producing television chat shows and I learnt that nothing would match a well told story when guests wanted to influence, engage, or simply connect with the audience.
This intrigued me then and it still does. Religions, myths, fairytales, and the role they play in our lives, for me is one of the most fascinating subjects. How we make sense of our world and all that happens to us, how we use narrative to relate the meaning of events, and how we live our own lives by the story we tell ourselves.
Stories do more than relate a sequence of events or happenings. Stories help transfer the experience of those events in a purely human language. As we navigate our lives or our work, we use stories to describe, to explain, to engage and to create shared visions.
About eight years ago, I began using storytelling in my communications business. I use stories to help people with media interviews, presentations, speeches and networking. On another level I use narrative to help organisations discover and craft their own stories; how they came about, what guides them and where they are going.
Stories help us define conflict, direction and context in the complex world of modern business. They also help our customers and clients understand who we are as well as what we do.
Today, with the constant flux around us, leaders need to be able to craft and tell good stories in order to break through the clutter of information and make meaningful connections with their audiences. Their stories help them express their uniqueness, their inspiration and the difference that they make.
– Cilian Fennell, Stillwater Communications