WASHINGTON, March 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — What does every inspirational TED Talk speaker, Toastmaster, and SXSW Keynote have in common? They have the ability to reach hearts and minds through powerful stories of their successes, and failures. No matter the industry or field, effective leaders need to be able to tell a great story.
That’s the advice of Irvine Nugent PhD, author of the book Leadership Lessons From The Pub: Harnessing The Power Of Emotional Intelligence To Build A Fully Engaged Workplace (2021, Indie Books International).
“At the core of leadership is the task of persuasion,” says Nugent. “It involves winning the hearts and minds of others and gaining their trust. In many ways, the CEO must also be the CSO (Chief Storytelling Officer).”
Nugent, an internationally recognized executive coach and keynote speaker, is one of the few worldwide certified facial action coding system (FACS) coders: Experts in reading facial emotions. Born in Northern Ireland, Nugent brings a rich and varied experience of growing up in a society torn apart by division and violence. Seeing firsthand the damage done when communication breaks down, and people fail to listen and understand inspired Nugent to help leaders build workplaces in which people thrive, and realize their full potential.
“Communication today seems to have been reduced to the smallest soundbite,” notes Nugent. “However, if a leader is looking to express ideas in a dynamic way that will be memorable and impactful, then storytelling is an essential skill set.”
Citing the works of neuroscientists and communication experts, Nugent contends that storytelling engages the human brain much more effectively than a data driven slide show might. According to Nugent, storytelling not only conveys important information in a more memorable way, but also fosters feelings of connection and trust between speaker and audience.
How can someone add storytelling to their business skill set? Here’s an excerpt from Nugent’s book with five practical steps for spinning yarns in the conference room:
Build A Story Vault. One of the most important steps anyone who wants to incorporate storytelling into their leadership can take is to mine their own experience. What stories come to mind from your years at work, your leadership challenges and successes?
What Is The Message I Wish To Communicate? People will remember a story before any statistics or trends cited. Indeed, I always encourage leaders who have statistics in their presentations or talks to try and embody those statistics in a story. It is a much better way of bringing those numbers to life.
Where Is The Struggle? All stories need a struggle built into them. Struggle makes a story interesting. Perhaps it’s a change that is needed in a change-resistant culture, a competitor who is outmaneuvering you, market conditions that look bleak in the coming year, or an invisible virus leading to a global pandemic forcing abrupt changes.
You’re Not The Hero. Every story also needs a hero who overcomes conflict. However, you should never be the hero of your own story. Try to make others the hero. Focus on the lessons they have taught you. When a story moves us to believe we have the power to overcome a challenge, we have engaged and motivated others, which is much more powerful than showing how great we are.
Keep It Simple. Stories do not have to be long and involved. Indeed, the sign of a great storyteller is one who knows how much color to add without dragging the story down with superfluous details. Keep close to the central struggle of the story and only veer from this lane if you think doing so will add to the central premise or struggle.
Nugent adds that since “conflict lies at the core of great storytelling,” a leader needs to build strong skills to handle tough situations. Leaders can view the conflicts in their lives as potential new stories to inspire and teach others, even if they feel they didn’t handle the situation well.