Lizzie is an Aziz expert in senior leadership communication. She specialises in how to engage an audience with impact and influence using the art of storytelling…
IN APRIL, many companies will have their year end, striking fear into the hearts of the finance director as they have to present their results to the board. It is a reoccurring issue that finance folk often fail to persuade others in the team and on the board to implement (or even just comprehend) a recommended course of action. Perhaps the key weakness is story-telling and the art of making numbers come alive.
The art of storytelling is something we can all learn.
Story is a universal medium
it doesn’t just mean fables and fairy tales. A presentation, a conversation, a strategy are all stories. To tell a good story you do not need any special talent, however, we can become more accomplished and confident at using story to our advantage if we have a greater awareness of what makes a good story and some tools that help us to create them. The best deliver powerful and memorable messages that motivate the listener to take action. This is particularly true when presenting where the ability to translate factual financial information into engaging narration can give your presentation a compelling edge and allow for the message to stick in the minds of the audience.
Stories are economical
They can transmit a lot of information quickly. They don’t need reams of data for a good story to stick.
Stories take place in the mind of the listener
We are engaged when our imagination adds something to the story; what sparks that is emotion and what helps to communicate that is imagery and description. When only 10 per cent of the information will be remembered, you want to ensure your key message is unforgettable.
Statistics don’t tell a story but they can: I add a sensory dimension (e.g. a medium sized serving of popcorn contains more saturated fat than an egg bacon breakfast, Big Mac and fries lunch and steak dinner combined).
I work on a human scale (if a business was a football team all but two players would be competing against their own team).
I demonstrate a relationship (deer are more dangerous than sharks. By three hundred times).
I ask what are the numbers in your story there for and how can you make them sticky and engaging.
Using story to help deliver the financial message can make your results more compelling motivating and easier to retain.