I am a story consultant. I know that story is the way we connect and that a compelling story cuts through the noise and speaks to people the way they want to be spoken to. That’s a pitch I delivered back in 2009 when I first expanded my business from a production company to a story consultancy. I delivered it over the phone to a client of mine who was the Head of Communications for a company with over 1,200 employees and the leader in their industry. The pitch worked and got me my first meeting. In that meeting I asked her what made her agree to meet with me.
She said “I have no idea what a story consultant is, but you said something that grabbed my attention. You said cut through the noise, and it’s something we are really struggling to do with our internal communications. Our people just are listening to us and I know this because we track everything we send. In fact, a large number of our employees have added us to their spam list so they’re getting no communication at all.”
This was a big problem and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to solve it. So I asked “How often are you communicating?”
She replied “5 to 6 times a day.”
I said “Wow that’s a really big problem!”
She said “It’s O.K we have fixed it. We have a piece of software that allows us to send our communication directly to their mobile and they can’t block that.”
While this may seem extreme and possibly even humorous, for far too many people it will also sound familiar. This is a common problem in many organisation and it stems from one fundamental misconception.
We operate under the illusion that what our people need is more communication, when what they really need is meaningful communication.
When they don’t get it they become disengaged. Right now 3 out of 4 people are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. Think about the impact of this in lost time, productivity and missed opportunity. Not to mention the financial cost of marketing, communications, events, advertising, etc. When you add it up the cost to business can easily run into the millions of dollars.
And yet one of the easiest ways to create meaningful communication for people is through story. A compelling story cuts through the noise and engages people emotionally, bridging the gap between communication and engagement. It speaks to people the way they want to be spoken to about the things they care about. Best of all, you don’t need to spend millions of dollars to do it.