Many of us would remember huddling in groups as someone would tell fascinating fables about clever crows, overconfident rabbits, conniving monkeys.
Folk-tales, myths about Gods, ghost-stories are embedded in our cultural memories.
Some would also remember the stories (smart solutions actually) about Akbar and Birbal, Krishnadev Rai and Tenali Rama.
We learn by listening to stories. Storytelling is a great way to grab attention and engage: we are hardwired to listen this way.
Unfortunately, fiction, imagination, even lying are associated with storytelling, not facts, information, statistics.
Without realising we utilize the art of storytelling in a more or less degree in various ways.
Yes, yes, even in professional settings!
Storytelling is essentially an act of narrating. We are all narrators. We look back at past events (even something that unfolded five minutes ago), and tell what happened, pretty much as if we are telling a story.
Imagine you are in a meeting. You think a strategy might work. But how do you substantiate? “Facts” and statistics could be incomplete. You remember reading about how this one company did which was something similar to your idea. So you tell that company’s story to support your claims.
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher considered a well-structured Beginning, Middle and End essential to drama (story basically.)
This sounds almost comically obvious, but imagine this in professional terms.
In the notoriously short attention-span everyone has, wouldn’t it be necessary to make the Beginning of your CV as engaging as possible?
While narrating, it is necessary to know what and what not to include. Isn’t that what we do while constructing our CVs every time we apply somewhere?
Just like a good story, your “CV-tory” could change minds, simplify, communicate. It is the story of your (professional) life. The poster of the brand “you.”
In fact the recently used video and audio resumes further show the potential of the CV as a storytelling device.
You are the main character here, with well-practiced and perfectly delivered lines. And you must have the maximum impact on your “audience”: your recruiters/employers.
Interviews are storytelling sessions of sorts we engage in.
We choose particular details about our professional lives to tell the interviewer, to make the “story” convey our eligibility. This story brands you.
Again, you must include everything in proper order for maximum impact. Relevance is important, isn’t it? Imagine talking about a great achievement of yours, at the Beginning of your interview. Wouldn’t that create a better level of engagement, rather than saying it towards the End when the interviewer has already made an impression about you in mind?
Good books, movies, plays have the power to move, so do good CVs, interviews and presentations.
Anecdotes are another form of storytelling we engage in our communications. They often counter biases and prejudices.
“I have been to that country, and it’s definitely not the way everyone thinks it is…”
“I heard it’s a great place to work at..”
Companies are making it a point to make their and their employees’ success-stories public. Storytelling has become a way to brand organisations.
Stories about successful people, stories we read about in daily newspapers, our lessons from our pasts: there are countless instances where stories motivate, teach, market and brand.
A “good story” crystallises thoughts, articulates them well. Stories give strategising a sense of direction, they tell us about the good and the bad ideas.
Stories are everywhere and so is storytelling if we keep our eyes, ears and minds open.