Mary-Jane Kingsland: Why stories are interesting

PUBLISHED: 13:33 17 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:14 17 April 2012

Mary-Jane Kingsland, of the Coaching Collective. 
For: Elaine Maslin

Mary-Jane Kingsland, of the Coaching Collective. For: Elaine Maslin

Easter means different things to different people but most of us will have enjoyed a well earned break.

It’s a time of renewal and hope and thus there is no better time to reflect upon where you are now and where you are heading.

My own reflection received a timely nudge just before Easter. I was enjoying lunch with Tracy Kenny; she is an expert in the art of communication and we talked about the effectiveness of storytelling for business.

We all have a story; why we pursued a certain path and what happened to us along the way.

Storytelling enables us to get our message across, be it your brand placement; your vision, or your passion for change. It enables us to present ourselves, our product or service, with insight and meaning.

It is not only highly emotive, but also a remarkably swift way of making a lasting impact. The real beauty of storytelling is that people will remember it and want to tell others; they will find common values and identify with you.

It has many uses. A good story gives life and meaning to any presentation for instance. A friend of mine teaches others to give great presentations and urges them to tell their story in the first two minutes; the critical time when your audience is making up its minds about you.

Introducing your subject in this way gives you the space and time to build rapport and settle into your presentation.

Storytelling is important in brand definition; it’s what makes brands like John Lewis stand out.

We know what John Lewis stands for and we know its values; because they have told us.

Equally, if you find it difficult to say what your brand’s story is, be aware that your story is still being written by everyone that you do business with and by those that purport to represent you.

Do they have the right script? Take the time to recall your story. How did you get here? Why? What was the key motivator? Whatever your experience, stories are always interesting – way more interesting and compelling than the product perhaps.

There is one outstanding benefit to storytelling; and finally I have come to the point of this narrative; the simple act of telling your story can transport you back to the times when you made those life-changing decisions, or fate knocked on your door and you made a choice.

By recalling your own story you can evoke the memories and feelings that compelled your choices and thus review where you are now; post Easter 2012.

Like every good story, there is a beginning, a middle and an end; it is up to you what fills the chapters.

If you don’t believe me, find and read the story of Ian Usher. His wife left him, he was utterly devastated, sold everything he owned on Ebay and made a fresh start.

Four years later he has travelled the world, run with bulls in Pamplona, cage dived with great white sharks and even joined the mile high club!

Not only that but he has found love again and bought his own Caribbean island. What a wonderful story...

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