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  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E108. 3 Easy Ways to Use Stories in Business

Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.

Francisco Mahfuz 0:05

Welcome to The Storypowers Podcast, the show about the power of stories that people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco Mahfuz. Well, I was going to say my guest today is, but there is no guest today, this is a solo episode. And I don't do many of this, I actually should do more, I think I will start doing more this season. Because what sometimes doesn't get done very easily with the interview episodes is that sometimes people just want a very clear guideline, or guidance of how to tell stories in business in how to use stories in their day to day work, usually, and an hour long conversation that entertains you and gives you all sorts of information might not be the best way to get those ideas, unless you're already, you know, have been telling stories before and you're just looking for different techniques and different ways of looking at the storytelling you're currently doing. So what I want to do today, something I want to start doing more of, which is pick some very basic objections or very basic questions that I know my listeners have, and just spend the whole episode just dealing with that. What I'm going to do today is handle a couple of the most common objections that I hear from from clients from people that I interact with on social media. And they are one the I don't know which story to tell when it comes to business. And the other one is, I don't have time to tell stories, you know, I people have no patience, I just have to start a story, you know that there was no way I could fit the story into a presentation. Now, I could actually spend a whole episode talking about those things and how they are absolute nonsense, particularly the one about not not having any time because most presentations, people waste a minute or two, just setting up and saying hi and making chit chat. And you can definitely use that time to tell a story. But I'm just going to be very pragmatic here and give you three different ways to find stories very easily. And those stories won't necessarily be long ones. So we're already tackling both of their objections, how to find the stories, and how to find very short stories. So then you don't have that reason to complain or that reason to stop you from doing it. But okay, that's more than enough. preamble. Three easiest, easiest, easy, I'm not sure if they're the easiest ways to find stories in business, but the definitely easy words. So I might have to think exactly what I'm naming this episode. But let's go with three easy ways to use stories in business. Here we go. The easiest way to find a story in business and to use it in a presentation or a meeting is to use what I call a discovery story, particularly the discovery of a problem. So let's say you have you have an important meeting or presentation coming up, and you're leading it or at least you have to get up and speak or virtually get up and speak. I hate that I have to say that every time now because otherwise, everything being virtual, this has become the case many times for a lot of people. But anyway, you have to talk about a problem that you know, there's a reason you're there to present a talk to other people. And what most people do is they jump straight into the problem, or they start sharing data about the problem. And those things can work. But what I think works better and is more interesting and engaging as a way of the form of communication is as you're telling your story. And the story you should tell is the story of how you discovered this problem that you're going to talk about. So we can make this as easy as possible. For example, let's say you work in a you work in a in a car, in a car manufacturing company. So let's say you work for Volkswagen or BMW or whatever. And you go on a tour of the of the factories every every few months. And usually that tour is not the most exciting part of your job because you know, it's BMW or Volkswagen, Volkswagen, and things are running fairly smoothly. But when you went to the tour, two or three weeks ago, there's something very different was happening. The deadlines weren't being met by that factory. So you went to speak to the foreman. And that person started explaining to you that because of all the supply issues caused by the war in Ukraine, there's some absolutely essential components weren't being received by the factory. or in that had slowed down production by 30%. And if they didn't get those components from a different supplier, sometime soon, the consequences will be even worse. In as you started inquiring to the Foreman's or for men's for people, I don't know we have to be politically correct these days, about the other factories, you found out that this problem is already happening in most factories. And if it doesn't get dealt with, it will become a huge issue for the company. If you just use something like that, to introduce your presentation, you can then say, and this is what I'm here to talk to you about today. And I have the numbers to back up what I experienced in those factories. And that's it off you go, you're into your presentation. And this is arguably not going to be the most exciting story ever. But it gets people engaged because of the form of of information, because it's in the form of a story, it will get people listening to what is happening next in this, you know, doesn't need to be you visiting the factory, it could be something from from a consumer, it could be for example, you would say, you know I was every morning, Monday morning, I have a meeting with my team, or with my teams, in one of my teams is the customer satisfaction team. And as you know, our customer satisfactions generally are around 75 to 80%, that that's more or less the industry standard. We've

been improving those gradually. But over the last few weeks, there has been a consistent drop in those in those figures. And I was trying to figure out what was going on. And what I heard from the customer satisfaction team is something I hadn't heard before, there is a very specific issue that seems to be coming up with the new line of of whatever product you have, that's been going out, because it stops working after a while. And when they reach out to our customer service lines through our customer service lines. nobody actually knows what's going on. And that's what I want to talk to you about today. So it doesn't really matter how you found out about this problem you want to talk about it could have been you personally experienced it, it could have been that you heard from some a member of your team, it could be that you were using the product yourself. And you found out whatever it is, tell us briefly how you found out about this thing you want to talk about. Now, if you've listened to me talk about storytelling for as long as I have been talking about, you can clearly see that this approach can be imitated by for pretty much anything else, you know, just tell us how you discover that this thing you want to talk about, okay, and it doesn't need to be a problem. So the discovery of the problem was the first suggestion I have for an easy storytime business. The second suggestion of the three I'm going to make is the discovery of the solution. So for example, one question I get asked all the time, is how I got into storytelling. And I can take that in many different ways. Some people want to know about how I got into this industry. Some people want to know when at the very first time I told the story. But the story I often tell is when I realised how effective storytelling could be when it comes to to giving talks or giving presentations. And this is the story. And I'm one of those very weird people who takes part or used to take part in speaking competitions. So there's speaking of auditions, usually through through Toastmasters, where you're trying to have the best speech or the funniest speech or whatever it might be. And I used to take part in those all the time. And there was a particular competition that I was preparing for a few years back. And it was supposed to be a humorous competition. And I had a speech I thought was was really good. And I had spent a few weeks fine tuning that speech and talking through it with some of my friends and presenting it in different opportunities. And I thought, Okay, this is fantastic. This has a very good chance of winning, and I was I was really confident for this competition. And I have actually are so confident that invited a lot of people I knew to come and see me. So you know, it was kind of important that I went there and everything went well. And then a night or two before the competition, I got an email from the organisers and they said, just to remind everyone, you know, we're doing this on Saturday, this is the time we're starting. We're going to draw the order of the speakers there and then, but just to remind everyone, your the maximum speech length is five minutes, okay, you can't go over five minutes, you'll be disqualified. And I thought I had almost twice as much time and I had preparing a speech that if I did it perfectly well would be about seven, seven and a half minutes. There was no way I could take two minutes out of this feature had been preparing. So I thought that's it I'm screwed. I'm gonna have to cancel it. But you know, I had invited a whole lot of people I had put in some time to this thing. And I thought, no, I can do better than this. But there's no way I can write a speech from scratch. Usually writing speeches took, you know, many days for me plus all the practising, there was just no way I could do it. So I thought it was there any story I have, that I could share, this is going to take up two or three minutes. And then I come up with a little, you know, way to introduce the story and maybe a little moral to the story. And that's it, you know, it's probably not going to be fantastic. But I've invited people to go there, I'll go present. And that'll be that. And then I remember that I did, I had, I had this story, from when I went to Sicily to Tuscany with my wife, and we she had lost the car keys, and it was really difficult to find them. And the whole, there's a whole lot of funny things that happened while we were trying to find them. So I said, Okay, I'll tell that story. I told it two or three times to myself just to see if I still remember that I came up with a quick introduction, and figured out more or less what could be the moral of that story. And that was it. You know, I spent maybe 10 minutes practising, and I was good to go. So on Saturday morning, I went there, and I delivered that that talk, it was amazing. I had a lot of fun doing it. People laughed, the audience seemed to love it. And I actually won the competition. And in everybody after was talking about how great that story was, how it was fantastic. And and some people actually came up to me and said, We know you've always had, you're also good stories. I remember a speech you gave, you know, two years ago with this other story. And it struck me about how easy that had been right like i i barely needed any practice. The story was how it happened. I didn't invent anything, any did a lot of the work that I would have taken me days, if not weeks to come up with like lots of different jokes and funny things, and whatever. And I thought maybe this is it, maybe I should just tell way more stories. And that's what I started trying. I started putting the stories into other presentations into other talks. And I realise how powerful they could be. And what I usually add to that story, as I say, you know, at that moment, I felt just like Neo in the Matrix when he has the cable plugged into the back of his head and all that martial arts stuff is going into his brain. And then he opens his eyes and says, I know kung fu. And Morpheus goat looks at him and says, Show me, right. So that is you know, that's the moment I realised that storytelling was communication, Kung Fu. And in that story, again, I can tell it better. I haven't practised it two or three times, for instance, I can tell it a bit quicker. But that story takes me two or three minutes to tell if I do it well. And that's as long as you ever need any story to be. So that's, that's a story of how I discovered a solution to a different problem. How can you do that in business? Well, if you're going to present about our way to fix a problem, how did you discover that? What was the process, you went through that ledger to that discovery? Maybe you tried something that didn't work, you tried something else that didn't work? And then the third time, the third thing you tried was the successful one, maybe you found out from looking at what the competition was doing? Maybe you researched it, maybe you just it was just random luck, right. But you can just say something like, for the last six months, we have been struggling with this particular problem. And we know it's really important for us to fix it. And that's what my team and I have been doing for the last for the last few weeks. And we first thought this could work. And we tried this, but it didn't work for this reason, then we try this other thing. And that also didn't work. But then I had this idea. It was kind of crazy. Like, what if we did this other thing, and then you did it. And it worked. And this is how it's been working since and that's why you're standing in front of people sharing those findings. And if you do it that way, it will become way more memorable than if you had just given them given them the solution. Okay, so that will be the discovery of the solution. And now the third and final way of easily using stories in business, it is not really about discovering a problem, or discovering a solution is more about you wanting to share something that that you think is important in your company, or should be important, but perhaps is not addressing a problem. It's not something you found out that is an issue, or or something you're trying to fix, but something that perhaps has happened to a different competitor or something they managed to do. And you want to have people start thinking about it in in a sense this is the cautionary tale approach, which is we need to pay attention to this thing, which is not a problem for us yet but might become a problem and a lot of people love using the blockbuster Story, the Netflix store in a blockbuster story, because they're kind of a perfect example of that, right? How, you know, at some point right in the beginning of Netflix life, I think before they were streaming when they were still only, you know, sending DVDs to people, Blockbuster was given a chance to buy them for not very much money. They declined that they thought that was not going to go anywhere. Obviously it went, and it did. And blockbuster is now bankrupt. And, and Netflix is not. But I'm going to share with you a different story, which I think works very similarly. But it's one that I think everybody would relate to, but don't have necessarily food. And it's that in 1999, a company called BlackBerry had the CEO called Michael Lazaridis, and they launched they launched a phone called No, I'm getting this confused. The company was called our IBM REM Research In Motion. And they launched the Blackberry, which I think many people think of as the first smartphone, and all the BlackBerry hands for people who are too old to remember it. You are too old to remember it. What are you doing listening to my podcast, I don't get that very,

very young listeners. I don't think if I do, I'm sorry, millennials, I am doing a disservice. But anyway, the BlackBerry was a screen and a keyboard, a fairly large keyboard for today's standards. And in all he did was send email, it sent very safe email. But all it did was send email wasn't a browser, that type of functionality didn't really exist at the time in the BlackBerry was a huge success. And people got so obsessed with it, that it was nicknamed by a lot of people that Crackberry I can't remember if it was Oprah, or something like that that nickname did that and was true people had it on their hands the older time, and it was probably what started this whole, you know, replying to emails at all hours. And Michael has always wanted to stay ahead of the competition. So every time a new phone came out, and you suppose that the smart phone came out, he would buy it, take it apart and see if there was anything in there that he should be worried about. But he never did find anything that impressed him and blackberry got more and more popular more and more dominant in the industry. In by middle of 2008. BlackBerry was coming close to 50% of the whole smartphone market. And that was the time that Steve Jobs and Apple launched the first iPhone. In my closet, Michael already did the same thing he always did. He got the the iPhone, he took it apart. And he was really impressed with it. He thought wow, they managed to cram a whole a whole Mac inside this thing. But because they have had so much success for so long, they were so dominant in the industry, he didn't really give that the attention that perhaps it deserved. And he didn't think they needed to do anything different. He wasn't convinced that people actually wanted a browser in their smartphones. So he didn't do anything about it. And by 2014, as it will come as pretty much a surprise to no one listening to this, the iPhone had taken taken over completely, or phones like the iPhone had taken over completely. And BlackBerry was down to only 1% of a market that only five, six years before they had dominated with 50% market share. So how would you use a story like that? Well, let's just say that there is something another company is doing that you think your company should pay attention to, or there's something another company has failed to do. And you think your company shouldn't make the same mistake. So you just tell that story. And it should just get people thinking about this, this, this different paradigm that perhaps will be difficult for you to explain, if you're just talking about in theoretical terms. And if you've to stand up in front of a whole bunch of people in a company that is dominant, it has a product that is a market leader, you say, I'm really concerned that something is going to come out of the blue and overtake us completely and destroy our market share people likely to be a little reluctant and they'll say okay, what are you basing that concern on in you might not have much to base your fears on like a story like the BlackBerry one, or even the Netflix and blockbuster one might be a more persuasive way to do that. And these types of stories is like business stories, they tend to be very engaging in people who are interested in them. You can even get people to to interact with the story. If you feel like you're not gonna get the two or three minutes you need to tell it properly. And you can just ask them, you know, when when I started when I was in my early 20s, the only smartphone that existed was the Blackberry. I remember getting it and I was kind of obsessed with this thing and Did anyone else here use the BlackBerry and then you you add the bits to the story. Little by little you can also do it that way. So there you go. So those are three very easy ways to use stories in business in a way that makes it easy for you to find them. And also makes it quick for you to tell them. So it's the two discovery stories, the discovery of a problem, or the discovery of a solution. And also the the either the cautionary tale, or the inspirational tale about another company that has messed up completely, or a company that is doing something that you should also be doing. And that will be that for today. I think I've given you enough to think about. And so as usual, thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves, and until next time.

I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find the show. Then scroll down a little and when you see the stars tap, I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website

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