3 Business Storytelling Strategies That Will Help You Explain Complex Ideas

Long gone are the days of polymaths like Leonardo DiVinci who had the skills of an artist, doctor, engineer, artist, architect and more. Today, in our increasingly complex world, we can be experts, with knowledge embedded in a single discipline. The result is that knowledge is often kept secret. This silo effect can occur within a business.

One of our health technology clients has a sales department of over 150 people working in 10+ specialized teams. Each group – brand, website, data analysis, philanthropy, and so on – has a unique and internal purpose. The marketing department needs to be represented as a complete unit to both internal stakeholders such as sales and operations as well as external stakeholders such as customers and partners. However, they do not have a system to distribute their work among groups. How much learning is lost because skills are not integrated?

When team members meet in staff meetings, their skills are not properly communicated. For example, the research team provides detailed downloads and data, entering the trash, using jargon and definitions that their audience does not know how to spread.

So immersed in our subject, we forget what it’s like to be an outsider. We work to demonstrate our value rather than to make our audience see their own value.

Barriers to cross-departmental communication persist in our data-rich workplace. pings of electronic devices stop. The challenges of the three V’s of data (volume, velocity, and variety) are often more frustrating than informative. When distractions and information abound, attention must be gained. We must have our audience:

  1. Listening – Are they even listening?
  2. Understanding – Do they follow understanding?
  3. Care – Why should they care, and care enough to do something about it?

A good story will captivate your audience, but how can you make sure they understand and think about your complex ideas in the shortest possible time? If your audience doesn’t understand, they probably won’t tell you. After all, who wants to admit in public that they don’t get it or – just don’t care?

This is the first in a series of articles intended to provide you with strategies to simplify and understand complex topics. In this article, we look at concepts such as “collaborators,” “teamwork” or “direct communication,” which are not as obvious or as simple as they are. falling. Because we can take these kinds of details for granted, they often cause stumbling blocks in effective communication.

To discuss these thoughts every day – and are complex – with one or even one other person, it helps to explain your words. When you say, “equity” or “corporate culture” what do you mean? Often in these cases dictionary definitions are not enough but business reporting techniques can help.

At a recent professional development meeting for our certified story teachers, we took on the challenge of explaining one of these powerful ideas in 200 words or less. These examples give you a variety of techniques to try when you want to convey common ideas among your audience.

#1 Tell a story… where the main point you want to communicate is missing.

Defining common nouns by keeping them out of the story will help your audience see the importance. This is a story about what happens when communication is lost, shared by journalism teacher Chuen Chuen Yeo.

Many years ago, I was working with a colleague. I think everything is going well. Then, one day, my boss called me to the office and, with sympathy, said that he knows how enthusiastic I am, but I have to involve my colleague in the decision.

I was angry because I didn’t know my co-worker was angry, but I calmed down and nodded.

My colleague was waiting outside the director’s office, and he started, “So, Chuen Chuen, I believe that I should be the director, so I went to our director…” I finally realized and what I think we did together is not comfortable for him, so he decided to talk to our boss.

What is instant communication? Talk to the person involved directly instead of beating around the bush.

Chuen Chuen uses this story when onboarding new employees to help them understand his leadership style and what is expected of them when it comes to communicating with other team members and their new job.

#2 Tell a story… where the main idea evokes emotion

In the next example, my colleague Reena Kansal presents a story from the anthology of essays American Like Me, Reflections On Life Between Cultures edited by America Ferrera. In this article, Reshma Saujani reveals the complexities hidden in simple concepts:

When I order a large chai tea latte at Starbucks, I almost always lie. It is a white lie, as innocent and airy as the foam on the top of the drink, but it was carefully constructed to make our lives easier.

“May I have your name, ma’am?”

“Maya,” I say casually, pulling out my credit card.

The barista is a lavender-haired teenager with long hair and beautiful and straight eyebrows. hard to like, because nothing seems to be happening. He was drawing Maya around his cup with a Sharpie and I was thinking about Maya. My dear Maya stole her name for my Starbucks order.

He happens to be my cousin. He was a beautiful fifteen-year-old boy who had no idea that I was borrowing his name all the time. But I do this because the baristas can spell and pronounce it correctly every time.

We say and hear our name many times a day, often without even thinking about it. However, it is connected to our identity, family and sense of belonging and has deeper roots than what may appear on the surface.

This story reveals many of the ideas that are gathered in the common name “name” and makes the listener question their own connection with the name. Asking your team members to share personal, but not confidential stories like this can spark emotion and build trust among team members, while creating a meaningful way to understand the company’s value for diversity. during DEI training.

#3 Tell a story… by standing on the shoulders of heroes

Just as you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, you don’t always have to come up with an original personal story to illustrate a complex topic. Some topics are already presented in a way that will help you get your point across. For this reason, start collecting quotes. When you hear someone explain something in a way that completely captures your thoughts, write it down in a book of useful words. You never know when you will need to use it. This is a situation from recent experience.

The best way I’ve heard someone describe his strength is by New York Times the best writer Harlan Coben. With his 33 murder mystery novels and 7 million sales, he knows his strengths.

In an interview on the Freakonomics podcast about Suspense and Suspense, Harlan Coben had this to say, “I always have missing people in my books and the missing parts are interesting. In the case of the missing person zero versus murder: if someone’s dead, they’re dead. I’m just trying to solve the crime. But if someone’s missing, you have hope. Hope can be the worst thing in the world. It can crush your heart like a rag, or make it rise. You raise that level by giving people hope and you raise it by letting go of something that could end you.”

When clients ask questions about the right impact of calling and reporting leads, the first part of the answer is… it depends. It depends on what you are trying to achieve. You must set your goals in the right direction. But no one likes an answer that starts with “it depends,” so the second part of the answer is obvious. Whatever emotion you choose to align with your goal, your story should end with hope. Coben’s story about the power of hope helps the audience understand why. It shows emotional strength.

Learn more business reporting techniques to clear up the confusion.

What common and complex ideas do you want to explain and discuss with your team? What strategies can you use to help your team move the conversation forward?


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