AMA Answers: When is it appropriate to use storytelling in business?

July 1, 2013

storytelling in business

Storytelling is becoming a more common way to engage and relate your message in business. But storytelling can be tricky. AMA Playbook answers the question, when and where should I use storytelling in business? Here are few tips from storytelling guru and Amacom author Paul Smith:

* Use stories when you are leading a group–that can be anywhere from formal meetings and speeches to one-on-one conversations, in emails, in memos, or in the lunch room. “Wherever and whenever you would normally tell someone what to do, give advice, or teach a lesson, a story can be inserted without worry,” Smith asserts.

* Follow your company’s lead. Organizations already have started to use storytelling to relay their mission and in their branding. Typically organizations use storytelling in training sessions, on the company website, in corporate newsletters, in the annual report, and at client meetings, team meetings, and social events. You should feel comfortable using stories in any of these settings as well.

* Be a storytelling champion: Create your own storytelling venues. Post stories on bulletin boards around the office. Stuff stories in paychecks. Record stories on CDs. Introduce storytelling events to encourage employees to share stories live. Start an in-house storytelling club. As Smith sums it up: “It’s hard to think of a place where you shouldn’t be telling stories.”

Adapted from LEAD WITH A STORY: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith (AMACOM).

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About The Author

Christina Parisi is Director of Digital Content at the American Management Association. Previously she was an Executive Editor at AMACOM Books and the Director of AMA Self-Studies.

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