Jazzing Up Your Communication

By Nancy Fredericks


Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.thrivewithnancy.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

Are you an executive woman on the rise or looking to be one? Are you sensing your communication isn’t as effective as it could be? 

Perhaps you’re even wondering if you need to Jazz it up a bit. 

Congratulations on recognizing a gap…. Storytelling may be the missing ingredient.

As storytelling compared with communication is a theater-in-the-round surround sound experience. It ignites the senses.

First-rate communication is mandatory for your career future. I know it, and you know it. The center point of an executive’s activities relies on sharing information and then convincing others to embrace the company’s vision, projects, products or any number of other business issues. 

The most effective way to influence others is to engage their emotions—and stories do that. They touch the listener’s heart sticking like burrs in a way no other communication does.

Human beings don’t take action through intellectual persuasion alone. The emotional connection has listeners taking in the concept, and then it transforms cognitive thought. This characteristic is why the art of storytelling can be so powerful in the work environment. 

Stories in business are not solely used as a method of exchanging information. At the root is the intention to connect people, change minds, and engage hearts. You’re looking to have your audience retain and connect personally to the information presented.

Why storytelling?

Emotions Hook The Brain: “When we receive information from a PowerPoint presentation, the language part of our brain that decodes words into meaning becomes activated. However, when we listen to a story, much more happens. Not only does the language processing center become activated, but other parts are used to process the experience….Hearing a story puts much more of our brain to work than simply listening to a presentation. Not only can we stimulate various areas of the brain, but if the listener relates to a story, their brains can become synchronized with their storytellers.”[i]

  • Stories Break Down Barriers: Storytelling allows the listener to sink into reflection and engages them in predicting where the story is going. Research from Ohio State confirms this. They report that stories sway people’s fundamental beliefs more effectively through storytelling than the more common logical facts and figures argument.[ii] 

Feeling Any Resistance?

All of us are natural storytellers. We do it without thinking. So why would you talk yourself out of utilizing this powerful tool in your career? 

Interested in Seven Quick Hit Tips?

1.    Effective storytelling in business starts with making sure the purpose is relevant to your audience.

2.    Consciously create a common ground that supports the objective.

3.    Consider your audience as you develop your story. 

a.    You need to adapt your style and content for the audience.

b.    Successful storytellers are hyper-receiver-centric, meaning you need to be super sensitive to your audience.

c.    What specific focus will aid your audience in realizing the story’s message?

4.    Think of the story as of the beginning, a buildup, a dramatic point, and a closing.

a.    Metaphors often facilitate connecting the story to the business issue.

b.    Use vivid, expressively impactful words to paint the picture you intend.

5.    Be authentic. Remember, your company hired you for all your gifts and talents!

6.    Pick up your natural speaking pace occasionally and then pause strategically for emphasis. 

7.    Begin applying storytelling in business meetings where the risk/reward is small as you build your muscles in this area.

Are you starting to see your way clear to Jazzing Up Your Communication

If it’s already come to your attention, you can’t afford to put it off any longer. This skill is one that the more you practice, the better you get. 

Start now! What presentation or ask of your boss is coming up that will be your launch point?

[i] The Simple Science to Good Storytelling, Harvey Deutschendorf, FastCompany, http://www.fastcompany.com/3025676/work-smart/the-simple-science-to-good-storytelling

[ii] The Role of Transportation in the Persuasiveness of Public Narratives, Melanie  Green and Timothy C. Brock, Ohio State University, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol. 79, No. 5, 701-702, page 703.

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