What's Your Story?

Having worked in fund development for a number of years, I have seen the power of a story. Being able to shape a compelling narrative that brings data to life can make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars.  But in the corporate world, many believe storytelling is for kindergarten teachers. Not true. In her recent book, Centered Leadership, Joanna Barsh emphasizes this ability for the business world and provides a simple process for putting it into practice. 

Barsh was a senior partner at McKinsey & Company for over a decade so she is no stranger to the fast-paced, high-results focused business world we find ourselves in.  She argues that building your presence as a storyteller is one of the keys to motivating and inspiring change.

Here's her basic formula:

1. Frame the story. This is your desired takeaway and should only constitute about 5% of your presentation time.

2. Share a relevant incident or example. Bring it to life by making it personal. This will be about 80% of your presentation time.

3. Share the point of the story. Tell your audience what you would like them to learn or do. Be specific, brief and link it back to the original takeaway. This will be 10% of your total time.

4. Close with one benefit or reason you want them to do this, making it clear why you've shared the story. This is the last 5% of your presentation.

Whether your next meeting is data-heavy with little inspiration or you've got off-topic stories hijacking your meetings, this simple formula can help you keep focused on the bottom line while fully engaging your audience toward real change.