In one of their guest lecturing programs, I guided a strategic storytelling in internal communications workshop for the second year communication students at Arnhem Business School in Arnhem, the Netherlands. They had been given a task to have a deeper look into a diversity policy of a giant multinational company and how they could present it in a more strategic way, applying the insights and knowledge from the workshop.
One of the best remarks made from one of the students was, “If they didn’t plaster the name of the company allover the website, we wouldn’t know which company they were talking about since these kind of texts and narratives can be written for any company. “ Ouch.
Several key lessons I learnt from the workshop:
It is not always easy to describe a character in a communication product. A character can also be the whole company, just keep in mind that whoever or whatever it is you’d like to present, you have to create a specific image, and revealing something important. The most common weakness of character descriptions is that they generalize. Pick one or two important or relevant traits, and develop from there.
As you don’t always have time and space to do a perfect storytelling in your business communications, as long as you have the right character and emotional content in it, you’ll be fine. And don’t make it too complicated with emotion, it can also come in the form of mentioning of a yoga lesson or a great cafeteria in a corporate video.
One of the best suggestions was to present the whole diversity policy in a corporate video portraying the company sponsoring a football event. Storytelling? Check. Emotion? Double check. Diversity? Triple check.
As their lecturer, Bram Hendrawan, PhD puts it, “It was an insightful presentation and workshop.” One of the students came to me and says, “Thank you for the presentation, we just finished reading a big book about storytelling and the workshop gave us a clearer picture of what needs to be done.”
Thank you for your time, good people at Arnhem Business School, till next time!