Storytelling as an Influencing Technique

Influencing: Storytelling

To tell a story that persuades listeners to take action, have a clear purpose and connect your narrative to your core message. Use humor and jokes cautiously, because your audience may not respond the way you expect, given different cultures, values, and backgrounds. Use these tips for telling a story as part of a business presentation.


Start your story with an inspirational quote, stunning visual or a short video or audio clip. This strategy sets the tone. Get to the point fairly quickly, and then tie it back to your topic. Add a short summary including a call to action. You may also want to ask for favorite quotes and stories from the audience, as well. If you’re speaking in front of a live group, be mindful of your body language. For example, keep your hands out of your pockets and make eye contact to engage with your listeners.


To enhance your story, use bold and colorful text or animation in your online presentation that reinforces your main message. Facts tend to be meaningless without proper context. You can also draw pictures as you tell your story to enhance your ability to spur people to change. Images provide a way to organize your thoughts and communicate complex or potentially confusing information. Carefully chosen images can provide reassurance in times of stress, as well. Don’t, however, use your power or influence to mislead or con your team members into taking unethical, illegal or immoral actions. Twisting the facts typically results in long-term discord.

Team Building

Use storytelling as a technique for team building by challenging people to craft stories as a lively, fun icebreaker activity.  For example, split up a large group into teams of three or four. Ask them to collaborate on a survival strategy for being shipwrecked on a deserted island. Their story should include what eight items they would bring and what they would do with them if stranded for a week. Or, ask individuals to draw a timeline of their professional (or personal) lives and tell their life story. Creating a common story can help team members build relationships, discover common interests and develop productive working habits.

People make many decisions based on their unconscious minds, so appeal to their basic needs for best results. Stories can help you introduce new vocabulary and use it consistently in your meetings and communications. Use storytelling as a powerful technique in influencing and motivating a team, whether you’re trying to convince them to overcome adversity, get rich, face a challenge, go on a mission, have some fun, mourn a loss or start over again.

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