3 Business Storytelling Strategies That Will Help You Explain Complex Ideas

The days of polymaths such as Leonardo DiVinci had the talents of a doctor, artist, engineer, sculptor, architect, and the like. In our more complex world, it is more common to be experts, having expertise deeply rooted within a specific field. This means that knowledge is usually isolated. This can be seen within a single company.

One of our clients in healthcare technology has a marketing team with over 150 employees on more than 10 distinct teams. Each group — branding web, data analytics, site and enablement, and others — have specific expertise and goals within the company. Marketing must present as a whole to its internal stakeholders, such as operational and sales, as well as external stakeholders such as partners and customers. But they need a system to share their expertise with the teams. How much knowledge is lost due to their knowledge not being shared?

If team members get together in cross-functional meetings, their knowledge isn’t shared effectively. For example, the analytics team offers a complete report on data and gets deep into the details, with jargon and information that their audiences need to be able to use in a sparse manner.

We are so absorbed in our topic that we do not remember the experience of being an outsider. We strive to show our worth rather than convincing our audience to recognize the value of our work for themselves.

The challenges of communicating across different sectors persist in our increasingly data-driven workplace. The pings of devices disrupt. The challenge of data’s 3 V’s (volume, velocity, and variety) is more frustrating than educational. With so much information and distractions and attention is required to be earned. We must have the attention of our viewers:

  1. Attention to those who aren’t listening?
  2. Understanding Are they following and comprehending?
  3. Care -Why should they care and want to take action?

A compelling story will grab your readers’ attention; however, how can you ensure they are aware of and interested in your ideas in the least amount of time? If your audience gets the concept, they’ll probably not reveal it to you. No one would openly admit they don’t know what they’re talking about or don’t care.

This is the first writeup story in a series of articles that provide you with ways to make complicated subjects understandable and easy to comprehend. This article will take on abstract, universal concepts such as “stakeholders,” “teamwork,” or “direct communication” that aren’t as easy or obvious as they appear. Since we think of these common abstractions for granted, they frequently cause a stumbling block of inefficient communication.

To discuss these daily -but complex concepts with a group, or just one person, you should define the terms you’re using. What does that mean when discussing “equity” and “corporate culture”? In these situations, more than the dictionary definitions are needed, but business storytelling strategies can aid.

In a recent professional growth gathering of Our certified Story Facilitators, We tackled the task of explaining the most difficult concepts in less than 200 words. The following examples will help you develop various structures to explore when trying to explain an abstract idea to your audience.

#1 Create an account where the idea you are trying to talk about is not there.

Defining an abstract noun by not mentioning it in the story will make your audience more drawn to it. Here’s a tale of the consequences of direct communication when it is absent, told by a Certified Story Facilitator, Chuen Chuen Yuen.

Some time back, my colleague with me was working on the same project. I believed that all was going smoothly. One day my boss came into my office. She was empathetic and acknowledged how much I loved my job, but I needed to include my colleague in the decision-making process.

I was furious because I didn’t know my colleague was unhappy; however, I remained calm and smiled.

The colleague I was with was standing outside the boss’s office, and she said, “So, Chuen Chuen, I think I have to be direct, and so I met with our boss.” Then I found out that she was not happy with my impression of a decision we’d made jointly, and she decided to discuss it with our boss.

How do you communicate directly? Discuss the issue now with the person involved instead of arguing about the subject.

Chuen employs this story when she takes on new employees to aid them in understanding her leadership style and what she expects of them in terms of talking to other team members as they transition into their new roles.

#2 Tell a story where the central idea stirs emotions

In the following instance, my friend Reena Kansal shares a story in a collection of essays, American Like Me, Reflections on the Life Between Cultures, edited by America Ferrera. In this short story, Reshma Saujani shows the depth of an idea that is simple:

When I purchase the chai tea latte at Starbucks, I usually will lie. It’s a lie that’s as airy and innocent as the foam that sits on the top of the drink and has been designed to simplify our lives.

“Can I get your name, ma’am?”

“Maya,” I say effectively while taking my credit card.

The barista is young with eyeliner and lavender-colored hair, which is exquisite and precise. It’s a shame that I didn’t have a brief moment that I had picked an intriguing name and one that would be awe-inspiring to her since there is nothing to do. She writes Maya on the bottom of the cup using her Sharpie while I think of Maya. The honest Maya, whom I took her name to fill the sake of my Starbucks order.

It’s my niece. She’s gorgeous and 15 years old. She does not know I use her name frequently. The baristas know how to spell and pronounce it precisely every time.

We hear and say our names a lot throughout the day, sometimes without considering it. However, it’s tied to identity, families, and a sense of belonging. It has more roots than what might be apparent on the surface.

This story sheds light on some of the concepts entangled in one word, the abstract term “name,” and causes the reader to think about their relationship with names. The idea of asking your team to discuss intimate and not confidential stories like this will bring out emotions and increase trust among your team members while establishing significant connections to comprehend the importance of diversity in a business in DEI training.

Writer Harlan Coben says, “Hope can be the most brutal thing that exists.”

#3 Tell an exciting tale… with a stand on the shoulders of giants

As you don’t have to invent the wheel You don’t need to think up an original story of your own to explain a complicated subject. Specific topics have been presented in a manner that will help you to understand the understanding. This is why you should begin gathering quotes. If you are listening to someone describe something in a way that is enthralling to you, then copy it into the form of a list of relevant quotes. You never guess when you will have to utilize it. Here’s a video of a recent encounter.

The most effective way I’ve heard anyone explain its strength is through its New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben. With his 33 murder mysteries books and 7 million copies sold, he’s got something about its potential.

In an interview on the Freakonomics podcast on Suspense and Surprise, Harlan Coben says, “I often find missing characters in my novels, and a missing element is fascinating. For instance, in missing persons versus murder, if the person is dead, they’re dead. I’m only trying to figure out the mystery. If a person is missing, there is hope. It can be a terrifying thing you can ever experience. It can break the heart as hard as an eggshell or raise it. You increase the stakes by providing hope to others, and then you make it more difficult by leaving something that could make you feel complete.”

If clients have questions regarding the appropriate emotions to trigger when telling stories about leadership, the first thing to consider is your response is…it depends. It’s all about what you’re seeking to achieve. It is essential to match your goals with the right attitude. No one would want to answer with “it will depend,” so the second portion that answers the query is specific. Whatever emotion you choose to align with your purpose, your story must end with the hope that you have. The tale of Coben about the power of hope can help readers understand why. It shows emotions’ power.

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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