How Execs Gain Competitive Advantage With Storytelling

Executive training programs are one of the last areas where corporate spending is cut. Any smart organization that wants to grow – even in a recession, will continue investing in executive communication skills and presentation skills training.

So, if you are a C-level, tapped as a ‘future leader’ or in upper management, you are in luck. Chances are your organization’s training budget still has some courses in the curriculum.

But is the training that is offered really what you need?

Now, just a moment before we dive in to the answer.

What if you are a CEO but you aren’t sure how your presentation really rates? What if you know your slides are brilliant – but no one seems to ‘get’ what you are saying?

What if you are a sales director and already believe you are telling phenomenal stories – but your team isn’t making their sales numbers?

You should be concerned. Very concerned.

The answer to the question is you need a persuasive story.

The biggest reasons why presentations fail is executives don’t tell a compelling story. And here’s the kicker. They aren’t aware that they don’t have a good story. OUCH.

There’s been a lot of press about the power of storytelling and how the CEO should be called the CSO (Chief Story Officer) if he or she wants to be effective.

But what if you are just not that good in front of a group? What if you don’t have the storytelling gene? What if you’re great at strategy but interactive storytelling seems like a foreign language?

Executives who tell better stories often see a dramatic increase in business. It seems that stories are able to break down barriers, engage employees, and win over customers.

With the right story, you can get other people telling and retelling the story for you. This brings a dramatic increase of appeal, buzz and press to your organization.

Recently, I coached a senior executive in telling interactive stories – and drawing out key messages at a flipchart or whiteboard. He calls these strategic conversations with employees: fireside chats.

While the rest of his senior leadership team continues going crazy developing slides, he is connecting visually with his entire staff. By transforming routine presentations into lively discussions, employees instantly understand the strategic picture. It’s simple and direct.

Strangely, many organizations postpone basic presentation storytelling skills training. They instead focus on specific specialized training in managerial skills, business strategy, and content-specific development.

These areas of training are vital for overall business knowledge – but still miss the mark. If you don’t know how to engage audiences, tell compelling stories, persuade with visuals and inspire people to action, all the other training is for naught.

In an increasingly complex business world, look for training that helps you simplify complex information. Look for training that helps you stand a cut above your competition. Very few firms focus on how to use visual engagement and whiteboard conversations to tell persuasive stories. By building your skills in storytelling, and interactive selling with storytelling, you can gain a lot of ground on your competitors.

And here’s the good news: these are ‘learnable’ skills. Even if you believe you ‘aren’t charismatic’ or ‘couldn’t draw a straight line to save your life.’ (Yes, many executives share these beliefs.) Even then. You can learn to be powerful, persuasive and inclusive in presenting.

Mastering the skills of exceptional visual storytelling gives you a distinct competitive advantage. Learn executive storytelling skills at home, home, at the office, online, or on the road. 

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