Storytelling tips for introverts: an ambivert’s perspective

‘Storytelling tips for introverts’ might sound like a weird thing to discuss. However, as someone who bangs on consistently about the power of storytelling for leaders in business, I’m often asked by my more introverted friends and clients about how they can become more comfortable telling stories to increase the reach of their message and their influence.  They often say “it’s easy for you Jo, you’re an extrovert.”  But the truth is, I don’t see it that way. I don’t think that it naturally goes hand in glove that if you are a particular personality type you are a better or worse storyteller.

You see, I’m actually one of those ‘personality types’ who fall squarely in the middle of the introverted-extroverted spectrum. Most people probably do consider me an extrovert – I’m a party girl, I love being on stage, I talk a lot and I’m not generally awkward with strangers. But there’s also a huge part of me who is introspective, who derives great energy from being alone, and who just doesn’t really like hanging out with people all the time!  And for that reason, I have never been truly comfortable with the ‘extrovert’ tag, but also don’t really identify with true introverts.

For the longest time, the ‘ambivert’ was an unknown quantity. The extremes was where it was at. You were either quiet, talked less and liked isolation or small groups of close friends rather than lots of people, therefore was an introvert. Or, you were loud, confident, energetic around large groups of people and loved the limelight so were deemed an extrovert. Thankfully Carl Jung identified a third type – the ambivert – who sits between the two, and who generally has a good balance of both ends of the scale.

In an article I recently read on Inc. com, apparently us ambiverts tend to be more successful and influential than the extroverts, particularly in the sales arena. Ha! Who would have thought!  Continue reading

Use everyday moment storytelling for maximum impact

You’d have to have been hiding under a rock if you weren’t aware of the power of storytelling in business. EVERYONE seems to talk about it now. Well, it’s for good reason. Storytelling captures people’s attention, engages them emotionally and therefore helps to cement the messages you’re trying to convey.

The thing is though, I don’t want you to think that you have to have a big sweeping hero or rags-to-riches story to be an effective storyteller. This is a common misconception, born out of the umpteen conferences we attend in our corporate lives, where paid speakers trot across the stage, tug on our heart strings then leave, and the myriad trumped up entrepreneurs we hear on virtual stages across the world delivering talks to make money.

When most people think of storytelling, they think big, elaborately crafted stories like we see in movies or perfectly designed TedX talks. The ones that use techniques like plot structure, character, and scene design and usually either a bunch of comedy or tragedy.

There’s certainly plenty to learn from that kind of storytelling, but it’s not practical for everyday use in business.

The truth is you don’t need a BIG story to have an impact as a business leader.

Continue reading

Leadership storytelling: a crash course

What is leadership storytelling? Why is it important to understand this concept?

Let me give you my opinion on this…because that’s what ‘thought leadership’ is….giving your opinion, offering your original thought around a articular subject.

Leadership storytelling is the intentional assertion of your point of view.

The key word in this sentence is intentional.   Deliberate. Purposeful. Planned. You intentionally take a stand on a particular topic and then illustrate that stance via a story. The story gives the stance context. It offers the listener/reader a memorable framework in which to concrete the lesson.

Used well, this under-utilised leadership skill will create cut-through, will inspire your tribe, and will elevate your standing in your niche/community/industry.

But how do we sharpen these business storytelling skills quickly?

Let me share my top tips to getting started with leadership storytelling, inspired by 5 great quotes.

  1. “Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound materials badly told an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly.” (Robert McKee, author of Story)

You don’t have to have invented a cure for cancer, or created the next Facebook to have the right to tell your stories. Your life, your experiences are more than enough fodder to illustrate your value. You do need to have the right tools however, and you do need to practice intentionally and you do need to solicit feedback that will help you improve.

  1. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou, poet and civil rights activist)

Your audience is the most important factor when it comes to business storytelling. This is where most so-called leaders fall down. Don’t get wound up in your own importance and brilliance. When delivering your story, it must resonate with your audience. Tell it from their point of view. Always be thinking: ‘how do I want to leave my audience feeling at the end of my story?’ Continue reading