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. Because a subtle belief persists in our culture about the necessary separation of personal and business spheres, you might ask, “why?” Why do we not instead call upon the great archetypes of storytelling to dramatize the messages a business seeks to communicate: the hero, rags to riches, the quest, defeating the monster, and so forth? We argue that while powerful, those figures of storytelling are not as relatable or relevant to the primary audience a business seeks to influence—its workforce—as is the personal story.
Personal stories are preferable in two ways: first, they are 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 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 to be of great value. Instead, they need to be boiled down and told in the most immediate and simple terms. 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 he said, “Yes”?
How best to tell a personal story is the focus of our method, but the goal is to tell it for maximal connection.
Our entire method could be summarized by the notion: the optimal exchange 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.