At Narativ our approach to communication centers around personal storytelling.
Personal storytelling, in our view, is the most relevant form of storytelling when it comes to business communication. This emphasis may run contrary to the persistent and subtle belief in our culture about a separation of personal and business spheres. You might wonder why, to continue that “professional” separation, we do not instead make full use of the existing archetypes of storytelling—the hero, rags to riches, the quest, defeating the monster, and so forth—for business purposes? Our answer, based on 25 years of experience, is that, while powerful, these figures of storytelling are not nearly as relatable or relevant as is the personal story when it comes to the primary audience a business seeks to influence—its employees.
Personal stories are preferable in two ways: first, they are more relevant because they are told by one’s colleagues, from the CEO to the team leader to co-workers. Listeners already share an interconnected world of meaning with these speakers. Secondly, they are more relatable because the information they convey is about the activities, mission, or values of the business itself. These stories do not require analogy or metaphor or other types of re-framing or interpretation to be of great value. Instead, they are immediately and potently valuable just as they are, and only need to be boiled down and told in the most immediate and simple terms to achieve the fullest effect. Do we need a greater protagonist than Rebecca from Sales who speaks about overcoming her client’s fear of a breathing apparatus? Is there a greater emotional turning point than the moment the founder walked out the door of his job to begin a life of innovation?
How best to tell a personal story is the focus of our method, but the goal is to tell it for maximum connection.
Our entire method is fueled by the power of personal storytelling. What we seek to achieve through that method is to create the maximal connection between listener and teller. In that crucible, sense, meaning, and experiential knowledge will have poignancy, described as “keen or strong in mental appeal; affecting or moving the emotions.” We want listeners to hear, see, taste, touch, and smell the experiences of the tellers—to be there. This personalizes the story material for them as well, and from there, listeners make their own inferences and conclusions. In our method, this is how we put the science of storytelling—mirror neurons, empathic ability, and so forth—to work.
We know of no other type of story that has the potential to make as strong a mental, emotional, and physiological impact, as a personal story told to those who have a stake in similar concerns. We’ve built our business around its power.
In advocacy, we created safe spaces for the voices of the marginalized to arise, strengthen, and by being told, shape policy and change laws. In countless workshops in corporations we’ve bridged emotional and intellectual spaces, building bonds, clarifying mission, and imparting tools for on-going use in communication and content creation for both internal and external messaging. For individuals from all walks of life, learning personal storytelling has been transformative, liberating, and purposeful for their careers. All of our clients have gained skills to engage their audiences in new and compelling ways. A great message is one thing; a great message that sticks is what we deliver.
Our motto has always been, “A world connected by listening and telling.” We believe this is possible—and needed—now more than ever.