Do You Know Your “Why”?

The oldest communication tool in history is storytelling. Even today, amongst the numerous new tools and technologies, storytelling still is one of the most powerful forms of communication. Humans have always related to stories on a personal level as they are memorable. It is for this reason that great leaders have been known to use stories to effectively communicate and influence others. Stories have more depth and layers than raw data or information. For example, an emotionally compelling story can trigger parts of the brain causing us to cry, laugh or even change our attitudes.

Developing a strategic corporate story with a purpose and a call to action can dramatically impact a firm’s brand. Before you begin to create your corporate story, it is imperative to determine the action you want your audience to take. The story needs to draw them in emotionally to want to take action, and this message has to be clear. If the story captures our attention, the brain produces signs of arousal, stress hormones are released, the heart speeds up, breathing increases, and suddenly we are focused and engaged. Storytelling is an art. The story needs to be relevant and provide answers while at the same time it must be entertaining.

To build a corporate story, you must first have a premise. The story should describe the environment in which it exists. The premise should be followed by the plot. The plot will build anticipation in your audience. Finally, and most importantly, it will be your characters that will have to answer the “Why” question. Your audience needs to connect with at least one character in order to maintain their attention.

Not all stories will evoke emotion or call us to action. The simple reason is that they do not answer the question “Why”. Why does this story matter to me? Why should I spend my time reading this story? If your corporate story can answer the question “Why”, it will allow people to hear what you have to say, draw their own conclusions and make your story their story. In the end, your firm can become more connected, develop stronger relationships and ultimately call your audience to action.