Last Updated Jan 12, 2011 11:31 AM EST
It's hard to imagine your career going anywhere if you can't tell a story. Whether it's an investor pitch to a VC, an "about us" to a potential customer, justifying your group's existence to management, or an "about me" in an interview, your success in business is all about effective storytelling.
If you don't think some of that stuff is storytelling, then you're really in for a shock. Because if it isn't, then you probably won't get your funding, win the business, or get the job. Why is that? Simple. Media overload, communications overload, gadget overload.
These days, we're all overdosed with rhetoric.
A thousand TV channels and movie choices, countless blogs and commentators, countless email blasts, and millions of websites - each one jockeying for a position in our lives, a share of our minds, just 30 seconds of our eyeballs.
Now, more than ever, if you can't tell a story in a way that grabs people's attention, gets across your position, and sticks with them, you may as well just hang it up. It's as simple as that. Of course, a more positive way to look at it is that nothing can boost your career more - or be more fulfilling - than being adept at telling a story and truly connecting with your audience. Nothing.
The good news is that long ago, I was professionally trained as a speaker, I've given thousands of speeches and presentations, and I've been helping executives and companies position themselves, market their ideas, and tell stories for decades. I've also had the privilege of working for more than a decade with one of the great high-tech PR experts in Silicon Valley, Lou Hoffman of The Hoffman Agency. Lou writes a great blog called Ishmael's Corner: Storytelling Through a Business Prism.
Here's Lou's take on one storytelling exec:
Look at Reed Hastings over at Netflix. I worked with him way back at Pure Atria. He was fantastic to work with: conversational, knew how to turn a phrase, knew how to tell a story. Fast-forward to today. Netflix is a well-known, publicly traded company and Hastings is still conversational, can still turn a phrase, tell a story.That's why you won't read about this stuff in a book, learn it in Harvard Business School, or hear it from some self-proclaimed guru or expert. Because these are lessons I learned from real experts in the real world: