Storytelling Skills: Definition, Examples And Tips
Updated 27 December 2022
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Telling a compelling story entails describing ideas, beliefs and experiences through narratives that evoke powerful emotions and insights. It can engage the audience in an immersive, participatory experience and help the storyteller connect with them. Great storytelling skills can help business professionals achieve success, be it in their dealings with colleagues or customers. In this article, we discuss the importance of storytelling abilities, review eight types of these skills, share some tips on improving them and show how to include them on a resume, cover letter or job interview answer.
What Are Storytelling Skills?
This skill can help present pieces of information in a simple and effective way, as they typically create an emotional connection with the audience. These skills are usually at the core of everything you do as a professional, whether you are presenting a new initiative, leading a meeting, making a pitch to an investor or engaging in a phone call with a prospective client.
Strong storytelling skills can help you get a job with many applicants, help you get noticed in a busy office setting and decide whether your sales or marketing venture can succeed. They can enable you to connect with customers, engage with peers and start the business movement you desire. Storytelling is often important in creating mission statements, branding, motivating employees and creating value propositions for customers, which are the major elements of establishing and running a business successfully.
Related: Top 25 Sales Skills (With Examples And Tips)
8 Valuable Storytelling Skills For Professional Success
Here are eight important storytelling skills that can help you become more successful:
Creativity or inventiveness is the ability to use imagination or original ideas to create something unique. You can use this skill to tell both fictional and real-life stories. It often helps you create unique narratives, form a cohesive storyline, come up with spontaneous examples and brainstorm ways of delivering your story to the audience.
Related: Creative Thinking: Definition, Development And Advantages
Exercising humour can make complex or challenging topics more accessible. It can help you develop familiarity and friendliness with your audience, making them more comfortable and receptive to your message. A funny story can also make the audience more attentive to what you want to convey.
Knowing when to do or say something is usually beneficial in telling an impactful story. This skill can help you decide the right time to introduce certain aspects of your narrative or build suspense to generate interest. It can also help you choose the right moment to release a new post or make an announcement.
4. Market intelligence
Market intelligence is information on your industry or market segment. You usually gain it through collecting data points, such as sales, customer data, survey responses, focus groups and competitor research. Having adequate knowledge of market trends can help you develop an effective storytelling strategy and give a company a competitive advantage.
5. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) is the ability to comprehend and leverage your own emotions to empathise with others and communicate effectively. Having a high EQ can help you determine what types of content are likely to appeal to the audience. Understanding which elements of a story typically make people feel a certain way can help you develop an impactful and relatable story.
6. Public speaking
Public speaking is the art of speaking to a live audience with the aim of influencing them. This can be in a business meeting, an office presentation, a sales pitch or a professional event. Being able to speak with confidence and engage the audience is usually key to effective storytelling.
Related: Types Of Public Speaking Skills And How To Improve Them
Copywriting is telling a story through writing to generate brand awareness and convincing the reader to take an action that might improve sales. Writing effective copy that can achieve these goals typically involves storytelling. This skill can help you engage your target audience by showing how your written content makes them feel about a product or brand.
Related: How To Become A Copywriter: A Step-By-Step Guide
Editing involves eliminating unnecessary or distracting parts of a story. It usually helps you to retain only what's most important in it. The ability to self-edit and assess your narrative is typically the final step in delivering an effective story.
Tips To Improve Your Storytelling Abilities
You can follow these tips for excellent results when telling a story:
Speak to people's emotions: Try to understand human psychology and determine which kind of story is likely to evoke certain emotions. Instead of simply stating a list of facts or narrating a sequence of events, you can incorporate emotive elements into your story.
Do audience research: Determine the kind of audience you are speaking to and choose a relevant story accordingly. For example, telling a story about the challenges of running a business is likely to resonate with CEOs, while a story about commuting to the office every day might be more relatable to employees.
Use the three-part structure: Start with a hook, then introduce a conflict and provide a resolution. This is one of the most effective storytelling structures to help keep the audience engaged.
Establish commonality: If you are telling a personal story, use the first person perspective while narrating. This typically humanises the narrator and creates a connection by establishing a sense of shared emotions between the speaker and the listener.
Build contrast: While promoting a brand or product, you typically highlight the difference between 'what is' and 'what can be'. Try to emphasise through your story how the particular brand or product can make a significant difference.
Create suspense: Include content that encourages questions in the listener's mind to keep them engaged and curious about what happens next. You might want to avoid giving away important details too soon.
Use evocative language: You can use sounds, images and words that may stimulate the audience's imagination. This way, listening to or reading your story might be a more enjoyable experience for them.
Show confidence: When speaking to an audience, use eye contact and employ open body language. Exuding confidence typically makes you seem more trustworthy.
Include a message: Share an overarching message or lesson in the last part of your story. This is usually the purpose of telling the story and often includes a call to action for the audience.
Keep it simple: A story is usually more comprehensive and effective when it's simple and concise. Excessive digressions and details might confuse your audience.
Practise: You can use your storytelling abilities with diverse audience groups in different settings or mediums. You might also follow seasoned storytellers and thought leaders in your industry.
Related: How To Become A Screenwriter (A Complete Guide With FAQ)
Highlighting Your Storytelling Expertise
A successful job application usually consists of writing an effective resume and cover letter and later impressing the prospective employer during the job interview. To help ensure that you get through each stage of the application and selection process, highlighting your skills for storytelling might be helpful. Here's a list of places where you can demonstrate your storytelling abilities:
In certain jobs, storytelling abilities are necessary. When applying for such a position, it can be beneficial to dedicate a part of your resume to highlighting these skills. Here's a sample a resume skills section:
Branding: Copywriting, content marketing
Employee motivation: Public speaking, presentation
On cover letters
Highlighting your relevant skills on a cover letter may convince the employer that hiring you can benefit their organisation. Knowing how to accentuate your storytelling abilities can help you get through to the next stage of the hiring process. Here's an example of how you can use your narrative skills on a cover letter:
In my previous job as a marketing and campaign associate at Wavewood industries, I crafted weekly content for social media channels. One of my tasks was writing daily blog posts where I employed my copywriting skills to engage the audience and increase more sales qualified leads. Through the masterful use of my skills in storytelling, I gained 15 million impressions across all social media channels, amassed 2 million new followers and increased site traffic by 25%. I would like to join your company to bring the same level of expertise and produce even better results.
During job interviews
During a job interview, questions like 'Tell me about your strengths?' or 'Which skills do you have?' can be common. If storytelling skills are necessary for the position you are applying for, it might be best to provide an answer that highlights these abilities. Here's an example of a possible answer:
"As a brand manager, some of my greatest skills are creativity, audience analysis, market intelligence and storytelling. I am good at collecting relevant market information and details about the prospective audience. This lets me channel my creativity to create an appropriate brand narrative that both engages and entertains the audience."
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