Rob Biesenbach, author, Unleash the Power of Storytelling

Rob Biesenbach, storytelling

Storytelling is a strong narrative device to affect a variety of audiences and may be an efficient complement to shows and knowledge evaluation. This professional tells you ways.

Rob Biesenbach, storytelling

Rob Biesenbach is the writer of Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Outcomes (see my e-book evaluation right here). The guide covers firm origin tales, the use of tales throughout shows, and private model tales.

Rob is a company communications advisor, and the writer of books Act Like You Imply Enterprise and 11 Lethal Presentation Sins. His shoppers have included AC Nielsen, Mars, MillerCoors, Motorola, Allstate, Deloitte and Lockheed Martin. Rob is a former vice chairman at Ogilvy PR Worldwide and has served in authorities as nicely.

Rob joins us on this chat on storytelling techniques throughout startup pitches, impacts of tales, the habits and achievements of profitable storytellers, and the position of digital media.

Edited excerpts of the interview:

YourStory: What are the typical challenges entrepreneurs face as they scale up their firm? How can storytelling assist in the totally different levels of the journey?

Rob Biesenbach: Entrepreneurs are sometimes pushed by a fervent perception in what they’re doing, which is necessary, of course. However that zeal may also imply they lose their objectivity. They know a lot about their firm, product, or service that they discover it troublesome to differentiate the really mandatory info from the merely fascinating.

That’s the place storytelling is available in. By framing your concept or enterprise in a story, you study to maintain the content material tight and audience-focused. And that’s crucial when pitching to buyers, prospects, and recruits.

YS: How ought to innovators strike that delicate stability between ‘Stick to your vision’ and ‘Adapt to a changed world’? How ought to their story mirror the ups and downs of the journey?

RB: Change is all about battle, and battle is an important ingredient for any story. A narrative the place every part goes in response to plan isn’t actually a narrative. So revealing some of the ups and downs in the journey could be compelling.

However once more, it’s necessary to focus. A narrative shouldn’t be a listing of each single twist and switch in the course of, however solely these important to the narrative.

 YS: What’s your present area of analysis in storytelling?

RB: I state fairly clearly in the introduction of the e-book that I’m not a tutorial. And that, I feel, is a component of what makes the e-book so readable. Aside from the place I cite some of the neuroscientific proof behind the energy of storytelling, it’s not dense with scholarly footnotes.

I keep present on the matter by studying no matter I can from different specialists. Principally, although, I study by way of the consulting and workshops I do. That provides me an understanding of the challenges individuals face in telling tales, and I’m capable of acquire extra real-life examples of profitable storytelling.

YS: How huge a task do teachers play in storytelling? Can storytelling actually be formally taught?

RB: Completely, storytelling may be taught. My ebook goals to simplify and demystify storytelling. In phrases of simplicity, I’ve seen storytelling processes with as many as 19 steps! That’s unnecessarily difficult, particularly for busy professionals. I break it right down to its important elements.

As for the “mystery” of storytelling, I consider that with the proper instruments and construction anybody can study to inform an excellent story. Too many enterprise individuals psych themselves out. They watch TED Talks and assume they’ve to inform the variety of tales that ship individuals into matches of laughter or tears.

However not each story has to have that degree of impression. Typically it’s sufficient to easily set off an acknowledgement of a shared perspective (“I’ve been there”) or a glimmer of understanding (“I know what you mean”). That helps lay the basis for a relationship, a sale, or no matter your aim is perhaps.

YS: In the time since your e-book was revealed, what are some notable new examples of storytelling you could have come throughout?

RB: The sweetness of storytelling is that there are such a lot of methods to return at it, and one of the most rewarding points of my work is seeing individuals craft and ship their very own tales. They draw on their private expertise or films they’ve seen, they inject humour and shock, they use elaborate bodily gestures to amplify their message and extra.

One participant began telling a narrative a few big and I assumed, “We really should be focusing on business stories here, not fables.” However then she revealed that the big is Amazon! It was an allegory designed to speak a key menace to her enterprise to others in her organisation. Tales that go in an sudden path could be particularly fascinating.

YS: How was your guide acquired? What have been some of the uncommon responses and reactions you bought?

RB: I used to be delighted that in its first yr it exceeded gross sales for my first two books mixed. And I don’t assume it’s essentially a greater ebook — it simply appears that the matter of storytelling is of excessive curiosity to rather a lot of individuals.

One uncommon response was from a colleague who appeared stunned that the e-book gives an in depth, step-by-step course of for storytelling — implying that I used to be gifting away all my secrets and techniques. Against this, I learn buyer evaluations of one other guide expressing disappointment that it was brief on element and seemingly designed to “upsell” readers on premium merchandise.

I choose my strategy. The entire level is to assist individuals gasoline their success by means of storytelling.

YS: Most of the case research in your ebook function huge corporations; are you able to cite some examples of efficient storytelling by startups and entrepreneurs? How about storytelling in authorities?

RB: I reside in a 100-year-old house, so we’re always bringing in contractors for repairs and tasks. I do my due diligence — testing evaluations, getting suggestions, gathering the knowledge, and so on.

However what typically drives my remaining determination is how they current themselves on their web site. Have they got an fascinating story that’s properly informed and presents an genuine face to clients? Like a family-owned enterprise with an extended historical past in the group, as an example.

It might sound like a loopy solution to decide a roofer or electrician, however all different issues being equal, I’m going with the firm with an excellent story. It helps create belief and confidence.

In phrases of authorities, I inform a narrative in the e-book about the Nationwide Park Service in the US, which informed a poignant story about the dying of a hiker to warn individuals about the very actual threats they could face in the wilderness. It had much more impression than your typical record of “dos and don’ts.”

YS: Who’re some of the storytellers you admire the most at this time, and why?

RB: Malcolm Gladwell is a superb storyteller. He’s been criticised by others in his subject for oversimplifying science, however there’s no query he has a expertise for boiling down complicated concepts into compelling narratives that inform and persuade. Different technical varieties — engineers, technologists, physicians, legal professionals — might study from his strategy.

However most of my inspiration comes from the arts and literature. The entire foundation of my educating is that virtually every little thing we have to find out about enterprise communication may be discovered from the world of efficiency —from connecting with an viewers to expressing ourselves creatively.

YS: What are the prime 3 ways by which digital media is reworking the craft of storytelling – for the higher and the worse?

RB: First, digital communication locations a premium on brevity, and I all the time say in relation to storytelling, shorter is best. Particularly for novice storytellers.

Second, having an HD digital camera in nearly everybody’s arms have democratised storytelling, making it far simpler to gather tales from staff, clients, and different audiences. That method it’s not all “top-down” storytelling from corporates.

Lastly, of course, digital has allowed widespread and straightforward sharing of tales which, one would hope, may create extra empathy and understanding throughout cultures.

YS: How does storytelling tradition differ in nations round the world, e.g. US vs. Europe and Asia?

RB: I’m not an skilled in worldwide cultures and customs, however once I do converse internationally I all the time work with shoppers to make sure I do know as a lot as potential about the viewers I’ll be working with (which I do domestically, too, of course).

One essential factor I’ve discovered — and this goes again to my days working at a world PR agency — is that folks in different nations are sometimes not as “expressive” as individuals in the US may sometimes be, with our “Have a nice day” e-mail signoffs and potential overuse of exclamation factors.

As a result of emotion is essential to profitable storytelling, individuals in some cultures might fear that they’re anticipated to create an “Oprah”-style second that takes them far out of their consolation zone. So I work additional arduous to take the worry out of storytelling and convey individuals alongside to a spot that works for them.

YS: What’s it wish to make a dwelling as a storytelling coach and marketing consultant? What are the challenges you face, and the way do you deal with them?

RB: The most important problem is overcoming individuals’s scepticism about storytelling. Some backside line-oriented individuals or extremely technical ones, like legal professionals or engineers, low cost storytelling as “soft” or missing in substance.

It’s necessary to emphasize that tales usually are not a alternative for details and knowledge — they’re a complement to it. Typically an important complement. Research present individuals reply higher to a cohesive narrative than a knowledge dump. They usually need to get a greater sense of the individuals behind the product or model.

In an effort to change minds, it’s a must to win hearts, and tales supply a path for doing that.

So I begin by talking their language — presenting the exhausting proof for why tales work — then I lead them by way of the course of of discovering and shaping their tales.

YS: What new tasks or initiatives are you engaged on now? The place do you see your self headed in the subsequent 5-10 years?

RB: I’m all the time working to increase my portfolio, creating new keynotes on communication subjects, and including new materials to present packages. In the subsequent 5-10 years, I envision doing increasingly digital coaching and on-line teaching to satisfy shoppers’ wants.

YS: What’s your subsequent ebook going to be about?

RB: It can in all probability be about superior presentation expertise, which is my different main space of focus, and the topic of my second e-book, 11 Lethal Presentation Sins. A terrific presentation will help you shut a sale, win over a sceptic, encourage a group or construct your model.

A lot has been written on the topic, however the drawback of Demise by PowerPoint persists. Attend any convention or typical company assembly and also you see the similar factor: uninteresting, ugly visuals, info overload, lacklustre supply.

Presenters have to step up their recreation as a result of audiences are extra refined than ever. They’re watching TED Talks they usually anticipate extra. So the new ebook will draw on many of the classes I’ve taught — and discovered — doing particular person and group coaching for a whole lot of leaders.

YS: What’s your parting message to startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in our viewers?

RB: Don’t let worry cease you from letting go of the knowledge and opening up and telling your story. Corporations typically make similar-sounding claims, however no one else has your particular story. That’s a aggressive benefit that may distinguish you from others and make sure you’re remembered.