I got the opportunity to make up my own major when I went to college. I was so interested in different types of media that for the longest time I could not figure out what to call it. I studied poetry, music theory, visual projections, web design, Japanese history, and dreams, just to name a few.
In order to graduate, I had to lead a two hour discussion on what I spent the past three years studying. What in the world did these classes have in common? One stressed out day, it finally hit me – storytelling!
I made up stories to help me remember facts for tests. I used stories to explain complicated tech concepts to my web design clients. I told stories about artists you’ve never heard of to get them placement in major blogs. Any historical event I ever remembered was because of a well told story. There it was. Right in my face. Stories connected every single thing in my life.
College presentations aside, storytelling has been a huge part of my business. That’s why I believe it’s one of the most important skills you can have as an entrepreneur. Below are six of my top reasons why it’s important to share your stories.
Reason #1: If you don’t share your experiences, others can’t learn from them.
This one’s pretty simple. No one can learn from you if you don’t speak up. If you’re in the business of serving your audience, then it’s time to get moving. Maybe you had a rough patch in your business and now you know to never do that one thing again. Great! Share it with your followers. Help them avoid the mistakes you’ve made. Got some advice from a mentor that keeps you grounded no matter what? Tell your followers! Sharing these stories can provide guidance to the people who look up to you. Whether you spread your ideas in a blog post, a piece of art, or a live stream video, you’ll be able to connect to the hearts of your ideal audience.
Reason #2: The more you share your story, the better you will get.
I’m not saying that you need to unleash every detail of your life on the internet. A certain level of privacy is healthy. But I can tell you that the more you speak up, the better you will be at telling the right story to the right people. By putting your ideas out there, you’ll get direct feedback from the people you want to work with. They’ll tell you what helps them, and you’ll learn what they don’t need. Make it a habit to find the right story, and you’ll learn to connect with your audience on a whole new level.
Reason #3: Stories are powerful teaching tools.
Use a story to explain higher-level concepts that can otherwise be difficult to understand. I used to run a coding club for people who had never touched a line of code in their lives. It was called Kitten Coding Club, and the focus was on building hilariously bad webpages full of cat photos. The idea of building a silly cat webpage helped my students focus on the accessibility of coding. They were able to set aside the anxiety of trying something complicated and learned that the ball was totally in their court.
Reason #4: Establish yourself as an expert without giving away all your secrets.
This is especially important if you’re working on a paid online course and you’re struggling to figure out which content to share for free and which content you should charge for. A story can help you share a concept that you want to teach. It can show your audience that you know what you’re talking about. Offer an anecdote about how one of your core strategies helped a client get specific results. Help your audience understand the value of your class without giving away every single detail.
Reason #5: Building a platform helps you lift others up.
If you’re like me, you’re not in business just to make money and get famous. Although those are both lovely perks, at the end of the day, you want to help your audience. You’re here to lift people up. No more damsels in distress. No more waiting around for someone to “discover” them. When you tell stories and build a following, you have the power to bring others up with you. Changing the world is all about small, community movements. I’m not into being lonely at the top. You can’t have a business without customers. You can’t have an audience without other people willing to listen. So when you develop your tribe, remember, there are other people out there who need to be heard. When you have the resources, you can give them a leg up. Use your platform for all sorts of good! Collaborate, cross-promote, or bring attention to a company you love.
Reason #6: Storytelling is a tradition that’s here to stay.
It’s thousands of years old! Humans were telling stories long before we had writing, paper, or hand held computers. We’ve used narratives to remember events, share dreams, sell products and inspire revolutions. We’re biologically addicted to stories. Even with new technologies, social networks, and changing customs, storytelling is alive and well. There’s a reason why a list of facts doesn’t have the same effect on you as a shared personal experience. Emotions are what drive you to act, donate, and buy. A good story taps into the heart of a person’s hopes and fears. Use this information strategically, and you can change the world.
What’s one story that has stuck with you throughout your life? Share it with me in the comments below!