Storytelling lessons from church

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If you are a customer experience professional then you are likely called upon to make a number of presentations. And if that is the case, it helps to be a good storyteller. After all, people really want to know the story behind the data. Being a good storyteller gets people engaged and is a more effective way to help people understand customer insights and take action on them.

My role model for storytelling is a priest.

Most religious denominations have a portion of their weekly service where the presider (priest, minister, rabbi, etc.) delivers a sermon or homily on a particular topic. At my church the priest uses storytelling effectively and there is a consistent pattern to his delivery. 

  • Start with a story. He walks out in front of the congregation, pauses for five seconds or so, and then launches into a story. Most times you have no idea where he is going with this story which only makes you listen more intently. Just as important is what he doesn't do. He never starts with, "It's good to see everyone today," or "Today I'm going to talk about ..." or any sort of introduction. He just starts.
  • Connect the story to the theme. Whether the story is dramatic or funny, he then transitions to talk about the theme of his talk. Typically the connection is smooth and answers that original question, "where is he going with this?"
  • Another story. After elaborating on the theme he almost always tells another story that really solidifies and reinforces his main points. Sometimes it is an real-life example that serves as inspiration. 
  • Conclusion and action. He wraps up by tying the theme together and providing suggestions on what it all means and what we should do. 

I believe customer experience leaders can use a similar pattern. Start with a story to lead into your presentation. Share relevant customer insights and connect them to the story. Interject another story to add impact and provide some inspiration - consider including direct quotes from customers. Conclude by summarizing what action should take place and what impact it will have.

Storytelling is a great skill for CX leaders to develop. It's an excellent way to get people engaged and to prompt action.  

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Gibbons
As senior vice president of marketing, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. In addition, he works with market leading organizations to develop communication initiatives that engage employees around customer-focused strategies.

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