In his TED Talk “Why humans run the world,” viewed over 1.3 million times on YouTube, historian Yuval Noah Harari offers this insight on what makes humans so much more successful than animals:
“We can cooperate flexibly with countless numbers of strangers because we alone, of all the animals on the planet, can create and believe fiction….All other animals use their communication system only to describe reality. A chimpanzee may say ‘Look, there is a lion. Let’s run away.’ Or ‘Look there is a banana tree over there. Let’s go and get bananas.” Humans in contrast use their language not merely to describe reality but also to create new reality.”
According to Harari, it is humans’ ability to create and share collective visions—of futures, of possibilities, of things yet to come—that enables us to rally together and accomplish great things. This principle has important application for small business owners and leaders in general. We all have goals we hope to accomplish and ideas of how our business could be better in the future. But how effectively are we sharing those ideas with our employees, our clients, and the general public? How can we tell our business’s story such that others share our vision and work together to reach new possibilities?
Tech industry veteran Mike Kappel offers five suggestions for helping tell your business’s story more effectively. First, set clear parameters. When talking about your business, it is crucial that you are direct and specific about your purpose and what the business is trying to achieve. Your vision may be grand, but if people cannot grasp the specifics, they will not want to listen. Next, be authentic. Maybe your company has a unique and engaging origin story that will grab customers’ attention. Or maybe your origin story is not all that interesting, but your product quality and customer service are exceptional. Whatever the case, always be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
Next, Kappel encourages businesses to clarify desired outcomes. Whether you are presenting a new company goal in an employee meeting, or marketing to potential clients on your website, your audience will want to see a hopeful, actionable message at the end. This could be as simple as inviting potential customers to reach out for more information. Invite your listeners to engage with the message right away by setting clear expectations of how they can do so.
Consistency is another key element of effective business storytelling. Your brand and company vision should be parallel across all communication platforms, both visually and in terms of content. Similarly, all employees should be well-versed in the same company story, especially employees who interact with customers or the public. Train new employees thoroughly and revisit company messaging with them often to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Finally, Kappel advises that good business storytelling involves the customer. Your customers will appreciate your business more when they see their role in your story. At NiteHawk, we often invite customers to participate in our storytelling by creating web-based videos about their businesses and how they have benefited from using our products. This is a useful marketing opportunity for our customers, and it also communicates our appreciation for them and the vital part they play in the story of our business.
We at NiteHawk wish you continued success and invite you to contact us with any questions.
Harari, Yuval Noah. 2015. Why humans run the world. TED. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzj7Wg4DAbs.
Kappel, Mike. 2018. 5 essential tips for business storytelling. Forbes.com. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikekappel/2018/01/17/5-essential-tips-for-business-storytelling/#70558a92454d