What can Hollywood teach us about storytelling?

Government communicators know the importance of storytelling. We use stories to make our communications more relatable, understandable, and persuasive. But do we use this technique to make our own communication style more credible and compelling?

To hone my skills and understanding in this area, I recently took a storytelling course led by an actor. Who better to learn from than someone who performs stories for a living? The course promised to improve the power of my communication and help me apply storytelling in a work environment. It certainly lived up to expectations.

I hadn’t realised just how much ‘stories’ and the ability to ‘tell’ them can command attention and build rapport in the workplace. It is a skill all government communicators need.

Our week, after all, is full of moments where we have to persuade others – from influencing policy colleagues, to defending our work in meetings, to explaining new concepts to Ministers. A storytelling approach can really bolster your impact in these crucial moments.

After the course and further reading, here are three top tips to help you in the workplace:

  1. Distil your points into a trailer with spoilers: if you have to talk to colleagues or meet a Minister, what are the most exciting and noteworthy points you need to convey? Tell them what they need to know and not everything you know. Make sure you have a structure and throw in a few visual descriptions to make what you say stick. This will help them understand your argument and hopefully sway their opinion.
  1. Learn from the Wolf of Wall Street: modelling yourself on Jordan Belfort is not a recommendation but using some of his persuasive techniques is, like communicating with conviction. If you don’t believe what you are saying, the people you are talking to won’t believe it either.
  1. Remember your body language: We often hear that body language and tone of voice have far more impact on your audience than what is said. Taron Egerton didn’t play a convincing Elton John in Rocketman just by reading the script. Think about how you use your body language – what non-verbal messages you are sending? According to Forbes, your body language will have an impact on how others perceive you and how you make them feel. If you come across as tense, you will make others tense. If you come across as open, you will make others relax and listen to you.

So next time you have that all important meeting, adopt a storytelling approach. You will be more persuasive, and people are more likely to remember you long after the meeting has finished.

Further information:

    Image credit:
  • Cover image by Shutterstock/Twin Design (1)