Building a story-telling mindset

Recently I attended the Stratcomm Summit which comprised of speakers, panelists and experts from the world of Corporate Communications. There were a few representatives of the communications agency world too. Most deliberations were on post pandemic changes in the VUCA world and therefore creating greater opportunities for communications as a business skill and function. The role of communications has become more important to the C Suite. Human centered storytelling is back big time- visual and credible stories which build trust and transparency are the need of the hour. Communications that are insight driven and measurable.

While most of my columns focus on content that benefit everyone, today’s column is more focused towards communication practioners. As India is a land of storytelling and story re-telling for hundreds of years, non communication practitioners can benefit from this column too! 

A story telling mindset is about having the natural ability to tell stories woven around key messages and facts that you want to highlight about a recent development, news or views that are aligned to the communication goals of the organisation. How do you improve this ability further to tell impactful stories to your target audience that reinforces the perception you want to create? How do you build a storytelling mindset?

Empathise with your target audience 

Understand the audience you are addressing in the true sense. Who are they really? What kind of people are they, what is their mindset, perceptions and outlook? Then empathise with them. Put yourself in their shoes. Analyse the perceptions that have been created by the communication initiatives that the organisation/brand in the past. What is the objective of your story? What is the desired impact? 

Then weave your stories with traditional and digital/social media. Different strokes for different media. Measure your outcomes against the key messages you wanted to send out.

Most importantly check, does your story stand out? Is it interesting and engaging?

 You need an imaginative mind

An organisation or brand keeps a constant narrative to be relevant, remain visible and trusted. Each story has elements (key messages) that need to be repeated to drive home desired perception. Story re-telling needs an imaginative and a creative mind. Actually in today’s new normal era, when you can see the renaissance of the Covid free world, a communications professional needs to create positive disruption through the stories that get generated. Having an imaginative mind helps you create story angles that are out of the box and out of the clutter that your target audience has more propensity to consume. 

Wordsmith 

Words tell our stories. The language you use, how you place your words, creating sentences is important in creating stories. Align with your target audience, their cultural inclination, regional biases as you wordsmith. Be especially careful when you create stories in different languages. Just translation of a press release from English to another language is not enough, you may lose nuances. Ideally instead of just translations, important press releases need a rewrite in the regional language to create maximum impact. Your communiqué is not just about what your organisation or brand did next. Each communication should lead back to its purpose and desired impact.

Ask questions

A robust communication initiative can only have a high impact if it’s full of insights and makes good and compelling reading. Create a habit to ask questions, get facts. Go behind the story, the cause, trigger and everything behind it all. Research to find story angles, differentiators. See the initiatives others take in the same category. Find the big idea both in concept and execution. Curiosity may have killed the cat but being naturally curious may just about give you story pegs that you may never have thought of.

Again as with learning a new skill, building a story-telling mindset needs dedication, conscious effort and time

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” 

Mary Catherine Bateson


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amitesh Banerjee
Amitesh Banerjee is a passionate result driven professional with three decades of multi-country, multi-domain experience in Communications, Marketing & Advertising. He has worked for reputed organisations in leadership positions including JWT, ITC, New Zealand Dairy Board, Seychelles Marketing Board, Perfect Relations, Genesis Burson Marsteller, Adfactors PR among others.
Amitesh’s last assignment was with the Della Group and now works as Senior Consultant Strategy & Public Relations, Hill & Knowlton Strategies India. Amitesh is a proud catalyst of positive change.

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