The purpose of your story for a workplace audience is to improve the bottom line. Even in those employee appreciation programs where entertainment may seem the focus, there is an undeniable expectation of increased productivity after your story is heard. The question to ask yourself when using your story is: What is the point of the story and how does the story improve a client's bottom line? Other related questions to ask are: Does the story have the interest of the customer? Does it challenge people to own their decisions and actions? Do listeners feel and know they belong after listening to the story? Does the story create an environment for diverse ideas from different backgrounds? Does the story reveal how a customer's life will be improved by your products/services? Does it inspire people to take risks and bounce back after setbacks?
Anybody can tell a story. The question is, however, can your listeners make it their own vision, be inspired by it and create the future you want them to achieve?
To make a positive impact on your audiences' professional and/personal endeavors and generate repeat engagements, consider the essentials below. If addressed well within your story, a small positive change in any of these aspects will create a huge improvement in your client's bottom line.
- Your story must inspire people to act now and be creative with limited resources, especially in these times of unprecedented uncertainties in workplaces. Your story must evoke the emotional chord that moves people to action beyond awareness, to change even when it's painful, to let go of the past and believe in and focus on a future that is not necessarily clear.
- Your clients, just like you, work for customers. Customers pay salaries. Your story's goal must be to help clients improve customer service by providing better products and/or services, staying close to customers so that they can monitor their needs and expectations and deliver better products and/or services than anyone else so that they won't have to worry about competition.
- Personal accountability/ownership of an individual's decisions and actions is a key element often missing in struggling teams and organizations. Here is where your story must put an entire organization's success on the shoulders of each employee or team player. From the receptionist to the top officers, each employee must act as the CEO of his or her decisions and actions-knowing that a simple mishandling of a situation by a single employee can bring a great company down.
- Team dynamics is a crucial element that clients want addressed in your story. Your story has be the foundation of effective communication, coordination, collaboration and conflict resolution. It has to point out that the success of any team, like that of a wolf pack, depends on individuals' commitment and contribution, while the success of an individual depends on the strength of the team and its ability to function with inherent differences.
- People change when they overcome any form of challenge. Tailor your story to challenge them to focus on: opportunities instead of obstacles, what can be achieved as opposed to why failing is possible, a future they can possibly achieve instead of a past that has gone to oblivion and the talents, skills and experiences they already have instead of those they might lack.
- The ultimate call to action is the understanding, belief and willingness to be involved in something bigger than a job/career. When your story inspires people to think and act beyond self, you have not only changed lives, you have also changed the world for your audiences. Their bottom line is never the same again.
There is only one way to make your story address any of your clients' needs-your dedication to learn their challenges, concerns and expectations. Spending the time to interview 6-12 members of an organization will provide you enough information to help tailor your story to that organization's needs.
The mechanisms of how you tell your story matters. Your pauses, gestures, vocal variations and all other aspects of public speaking are necessary. The most important one, however, is how you care for your audience. The way you prepare and deliver your story is the barometer your audience reads on how you care about their concerns and the time they are investing to listen to you. Make your story their stepping stone to a rewarding tomorrow.