The Art of Using Storytelling in Leadership

February 14, 2023 | Events, Leadership

William F. Merck II, Author, Leader, Speaker

by William F. Merck II

Events | Leadership
Read Bill’s guest column for USA Wire on using engaging storytelling techniques for effective presentations.

Once Upon a Time, In a Place Far Away. . .

The title of this article is an invitation to a person to suspend their reality for a few moments and let a storyteller entertain them. It invites the listener to engage their imagination to conjure mental images to go along with the spoken words. A good storyteller has a theme, often of good overcoming evil or the weak conquering the strong. There is a moral lesson to be learned from the protagonists’ struggles. A good story causes emotional responses on the part of the listener—interest, suspense, fear, relief, and happiness. Children’s stories are filled with these plays on emotions. Innocent children may be captured by a wicked witch, their lives in imminent danger, and the suspense builds, but through their imaginations and quick thinking, they can overcome the scary witch and escape, happily leaving the witch in a position to no longer threaten or harm other children.

How many meetings have you been in where the leader strives to impart information, maybe important information, with a recitation of facts, figures, and rationally desired outcomes? The employees appear to be listening, but their eyes have dulled over, and the information is only being partly received, tuned out as they think about what they need to pick up at the grocery store on their way home for dinner.

An effective leader will engage the employee audience using storytelling techniques. They will engage them emotionally, using stories to keep their attention while making points. The audience will develop a mental vision to accompany the story being told, and that will reinforce remembering the key message long after the meeting has ended. In a workplace presentation, there won’t be time for a full-blown story hitting on various emotions, but the basic idea is still there. The presenter will still use a story but a truncated one to fit the short time available. In that short story, there will still be the opportunity to create interest in the story’s outcome, perhaps evoking empathy for a character in the story that the listener can relate to. Then the presenter brings in the relationship of the storyline to the work-related message that is the point of the presentation.

I will share the essence of a real story in my own life that I use in my book, So You Want To Be A Leader, Secrets of A Lifetime Of Success, that I use to make a point regarding recognizing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses to help them succeed, not have you be an obstacle to their success.

Continue reading this article on USA Wire.

Bill’s book, So, You Want to Be a Leader, is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Read excerpts from his book and articles on leadership here.

So, You Want to Be a Leader by William F. Merck II

Buy the Book!

So, You Want to Be a Leader: Secrets of a Lifetime of Success is now available in paperback and e-book editions.

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In Bill’s new book released on March 14, 2023, the author uses stories from his life’s journey to illustrate points in time that helped form his view of the world and his place in it. From growing up in Southern Georgia in the 1940s, to becoming a military officer and a corporate leader, he discovers a nexus between early feelings and subsequent notions and beliefs.

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