February 2nd Thursday Meeting : Making My Message Stick - Business Storytelling  

Speaker: Anjali Sharma, Managing Director of Narrative

Event review by Malgorzata Grabarczyk

On 9th of February 2017, at the 2nd  Thursday event titled Making My Message Stick: Business Storytelling, within the green surroundings of Polo Club, Anjali Sharma shared personal stories and used two examples of great business storytelling by women, Indra Nooyi - Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo and Sheryl Sandberg - Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, to drive home the point of how to create an interesting, memorable, inspiring and relevant story within the business context.

Anjali unpacked the 7 steps process of creating a story.  So, how to make your story memorable? It is simple!

Once upon a time… [wait, wait … that’s too cliché]It was a sunny day… [no, no… getting better…]. Forget about such phrases and start with a time frame (Step 1). When exactly this event, you are going to talk about, happened. To make it real, add a place (Step 2) to your story, for example, a classroom, a boss office, a shop, an airport etc. By adding such details, people imagine this place in their heads, so help them visualize even more and describe what you see with some details (Step 3). By describing a place, you create an engagement and feeling that somebody is together with you during the event you are talking about (remember, your brain does not recognize what is real and what is not). If you create an experience for your listeners, your story will stay in their heads for long.

Of course, each story needs to have a character (Step 4), describe a dialog between them. Remember, don’t include more than 2-3 people to your story, to help your listeners follow you and not lose the threat, who said what and to whom. Next, an important element, which drives action is an emotion. A story should be alive (Step 5), so say about accompanying emotions, for example, instead of saying “It was an exciting meeting”, you can say “It was an exciting meeting and I felt really inspired by Anjali”.

Reflect for a moment and ask yourself, what type of stories do you remember the most, these predictable like “I lived a happy life, was promoted to the next positions and when I was 60, I retired”, or those unpredictable like “I lived a happy life, I was promoted to the next positions, however, one day I met an incredible person and I realized I want to change my life, so I quitted a job and …”? Hmm, maybe nowadays the second option is more predictable than the first one J. Yes, you need to think about your audience, what could be an unexpected moment (Step 6) and how can you surprise them.

Great, you have all technical elements in your story, but why are you going to tell this story? Remember your purpose and context you are in (Step 7). 

Except these seven steps process of building a story, I took away two other thoughts. The first one: put an idea, you want to share, to a story, the second one: people cannot argue with a story, but can argue with a point of view.

Anjali suggested, that women can use stories to communicate with men more effectively.

The audience also had a chance to reflect, at a personal level, when Anjali asked a question: What stories do you tell yourself every day? She underlined a mindset role and added that mindset is more important than tools. She also talked about girls and that we can teach our daughters self-assurance. Usually, girls use two types of stories and they present overconfidence or under-confidence. 

At the end, it was interesting to hear the other ladies’ stories, their doubts, and opinions regarding women role in business and life generally.

It was an inspiring and knowledgeable meeting and as usual, full of reflections, emotions, and networking opportunities. 

 


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