Before I moved into Internal Communications, I remember the dread of attending the annual results presentation. Death by PowerPoint, slides filled with graphs, numbers and statistics, a leader reading line by line from a hastily prepared speech. Senior Leaders would sneak to the back of the room and fall asleep. I kid you not. Actually fall asleep.
When I moved into internal communications, I was lucky enough to learn different techniques from some of the best professionals in the business. I very quickly learnt that some of the most successful employee communications were those that used a storytelling approach with clear actions and an associated impact. Sets of instructions and results spouted at people with no context, no rationale, no motivational aspect were forgotten as soon as people carried on with their day.
Charities use the storytelling approach really well. When it comes to marketing campaigns, they don’t just give you a set of instructions. Imagine an advert, where all it said was ‘pay us £5 each month for the rest of your life.’ Yeah sure, sign me up… Charities don’t just issue instructions, they take you on a journey. They tell you about the current situation, the impact of that situation and their desired future state. A short video on a TV fundraiser takes you through a wide range of emotions, compelling you to keep watching.
Once they have put the story in your mind, they then move on to the instruction stage. If you contribute X amount, using this method, then this is what you will be helping to achieve. The public are clear in how to help (text this number to donate this amount) and they know how their help will impact (this amount will pay for this).
By using this approach, hearts and minds are captured through the story element, but they also have a clear understanding of the part they play and the impact that will have. By the end of the communication a large proportion of people feel inspired to act and donate. Although it may be a global initiative, they see how they can contribute individually to achieving the desired future state. They feel that their donation, no matter how much, is valuable and really will make a difference.
This technique is used by some of the most successful leaders and speakers in the world. They understand the power of telling a story, of using that story to show how valuable the contribution of each individual is and to give clear instructions that support the desired outcome.
With annual results season nearly upon us, this is a great time to start preparing the story for your business. If you would like to have a chat about how I can support your business in creating a compelling story, please get in touch.