In Business Storytelling The Surface Doesn’t Matter

“The Storyteller!” That’s how she remembered me. That’s how many people remember me. And images of Ted Talks, copywriting and books come to their minds. Because that’s what they associate with business storytelling: the hand gesture, the voice, the performance of telling a story.

But that’s the surface.

In Business Storytelling The Surface Doesn’t Matter

Say you look at a painting made by Monet. They are beyond beautiful. They capture you into their colour palette and story and influence you into keep looking at them.

Yet, those beautiful paintings are only a result, an outcome, a surface. Because, there is more to the story. Those painting don’t tell you about the pain Monet experienced when losing not just his wife but also his son. Those painting won’t tell you about the many hours Monet spent studying his idea. They won’t tell you about the space he bought to remember his wife. And certainly they won’t tell you about the failed attempts.

And there are two reasons for that. First, the story, the outcome, the result, the surface it’s for you. You can interpret it however you want, it’s a gift. Second, the processes of coming up with those paintings are private, they belong to Claude Monet and Claude Monet only.

Your story is a Piece of Art

Now, I don’t want to say that storytelling is an art simply because then you’ll probably think, you can’t master it. But you can. And it is an art.

And just like art pieces, your business story has a surface and a private reflection.

The surface is the story: how you perform it, share it, your voice, hand gesture … The reflection, is the work you do before performing the story.

The performance is only the surface. And if you try to start from that, your storytelling attempts will most likely fail.

How to Go Beyond the Surface In Business Storytelling

If the surface, the performance is not the starting point of business storytelling, then what is?

When starting to work or even to think about your business story, you have to:

  • Know your story
  • Acknowledge your story

Knowing your story means, reflecting on it. Knowing where it comes from and start thinking about why you want to share it.

Acknowledging your story means that you can accept it no matter what.

These are reflections you don’t have to share in the public square. You can work on them with your coach, you can reflect on them privately. Because your gift to the world is the outcome, the surface, the result.

What does focussing on the surface looks like in business storytelling

The effects of focussing on the surface rather than the reflection in business storytelling, are multiple and depends on the application of the story.

  1. If working within a team, you might find that the speeches you are given are not backed by actions or they don’t inspire people to action.
  2. As a new business owner, you might focus on social media and notice that your posts are not having the traction you’d like them to have
  3. If you are entrepreneur, you might struggle to talk about why you have created your business in a way that’s authentic and engaging.

How to stop focussing on the surface of telling a story

If you are ready to go beyond the surface your business story the only thing to do is reflecting. You can do that by keeping a journal, brainstorming with a supportive group of people or with a coach.

The steps will be the same: start with knowing your story, acknowledging it and then sharing it.

You’ll see the difference.