Communication is one of the most important aspect of business and working with groups of people. If people don’t communicate well, relationships can fail, inefficiencies are created, timelines are missed and rework is required. Whether it is a business plan, presentation, or meeting, storytelling will make you more effective.
As a communicator, you are managing impressions. Which is more engaging? Is going through a bullet point list on a Powerpoint going to create a better impression than hearing an interesting story? Frequently, I see people jam all sorts of information into a business plan. Upon review of the plan, my first question is, “What story are you trying to tell? What is your message and what is your point?”
Understanding the answers to these questions will help you reframe the plan and more effectively communicate it.
Sometimes it helps to look outside of business for the keys to impression management.
In the course of the last year I have joined the board of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. What a fantastic organization! As I became involved with the Theatre, I gravitated toward one of their programs, Alliance@work. Alliance@work uses an actor’s toolbox to help people be “present, connected and authentic” when sharing their stories. I was surprised at how well aligned Alliance@work was to the advisory work I have been doing for years. This isn’t a case of art imitating life. It is a case of art enhancing life by allowing people to add an actor’s skills to their daily occupations. The actor’s toolbox opens a new creative intellectual space within the business mind. It allows any communicator to step outside of themselves and re-create effective communication. The pictures that are painted through our storytelling have the ability to resonate on multiple levels. That’s part of what makes them so powerful.
How many presentations have you seen where the story is missing, the messaging is off, the decision-maker’s mind stays closed and the opportunity is lost. The story is vital. It opens the door and allows the concept to sell itself long after the meeting is over.
Alliance@work has not only impressed me with their focus on helping the corporate community to relate and communicate, but their mission doesn’t stop there. Proceeds from Alliance@work go toward youth education in the greater Atlanta area and increasing literacy. This is a brilliant story in itself and a great lesson for up-and-coming InsurTechs. Can you integrate your value story with the story of helping people improve their lives? For me, Alliance@work validated the importance of storytelling to be an effective communicator. And, it also demonstrates how important it is to open our world to new or different ideas that will expand our thought process and help us improve.
We can apply all of this to insurtech strategy. Let’s explore a start up or insurtech seeking funding for a new or growing venture. Creating the story is critical to get investors to part with their money in order to fund your work. If you tell a good story, you will build a plot that shows you have confidence and clarity of thought. Every story has a beginning, middle and end. What do you want to communicate in the opening chapters? What is your business? Why does it have relevance to the customer and market? How are you differentiated? Now let’s get to the middle, where the plot needs to thicken. What is your business model, how will it scale, how do you make money, what are the financials? Now let’s get ready for the strong ending. Who is the management team and what is the return to investors? Do the financials match the narrative? Numbers tell powerful stories all on their own.
The importance of storytelling is critical to communicating your value and gaining investor confidence. Cultivate this talent within yourself and watch how interesting and fun your presentations become. After all, who wants to be boring?
From the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, Alliance@work is a professional development initiative that helps individuals and corporations find innovative solutions to the big problems facing business today. Using Strategic Storytelling, participants gain a whole new perspective on how they can craft and deliver a message that powerfully connects with their audience.