How corporate storytelling affects your bottom line

Maegan Stephens

Written by

Maegan Stephens

Not too long ago, no one paid any attention to corporate storytelling. Who has time for stories when we have business to do? Facts and figures were the currency of the day.

But times have changed. Established and aspiring leaders know that stories are a powerful tool in business communication. Stories inspire. Stories energize. Stories persuade.

Here are the ins and outs of corporate storytelling if you want to jump on the bandwagon before it passes you by.

What is corporate storytelling?

Corporate storytelling is the practice of crafting and sharing stories about your business. These are the stories told to:

  • New hires during their onboarding and orientation
  • Employees during times of celebration and struggle
  • Potential customers via marketing and the sales process
  • Current customers when you want to retain their business
  • Board members, shareholders, and The Street to ensure their confidence.

On the crafting side, the more formal corporate stories usually come from a specific department or driven by an initiative. On the sharing side, anyone in the organization can tell the stories that motivate audiences to action (and we think everyone should tell corporate stories).


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Why is company storytelling important?

Sure, you could just skip the stories and stick to the facts. But the research is clear: storytelling is more powerful than facts alone. Storytelling changes a listener’s brain activity, which makes the information more memorable. If you want your customers to remember your products and services when it comes time for them to make a buying decision, and you want your employees to remember why they love working at your company, you’ll need to use stories.

At an organizational level, when you and your teams are armed with corporate storytelling training, everyone can work smarter and faster. Stories inspire and persuade. When individual contributors and leaders know how to incorporate storytelling elements like using contrast in the middle of a presentation or making the audience the hero, they increase the chance that their presentations and pitches will be successful. And over time, it will take them less and less time to do it.

At an individual level, people who become corporate storytellers increase their influence. When you share a story, the listener’s brain syncs with yours. It’s called neural coupling. Now, you’re both experiencing the same thing at the same time. That makes it easier for the listener to see the world the way you want to see it and take the actions you want them to take.

Corporate storytelling examples that move audiences

Corporate storytelling example #1: Setting up an investor pitch

The corporate team might craft a broad story, like how the company was founded or why it exists. When a start-up is seeking funding, they put together an investor pitch to convince potential investors that the idea is worth pursuing. In addition to data about market size, costs, and potential return on investment, the best pitches tell a story about how the company started. When a potential funder hears about the founders’ humble beginnings in a garage, a grade-school idea that took off, or a community need that has been ignored for far too long, it can help bring context and color to the pitch. These storytelling details make it easy for the start-up to stand out amongst a sea of other start-ups, and it can help the funder see the potential of the idea.

Corporate storytelling example #2: Reshaping a corporate story

The brand or marketing team might craft a new story, like how the company’s vision or point of view has shifted. Here’s a corporate storytelling example from how we helped Microsoft’s Innovation Marketing and Communications reshape their company story. They shifted their company story from one about a legacy technology company to one that emphasized the imagination of people and products.


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Corporate storytelling example #3: Teaching sales to persuade through story

The marketing or sales time might craft an updated story, like how the company’s products and services bring unique value at a specific moment in time. Here’s an example of how Veeam transformed the way over 5,000 sales reps across three continents told their company story. Instead of focusing on technical features, they told stories about business outcomes that connected with their customers’ goals.

Corporate storytelling example #4: Using story for change management communications

The leadership team might craft a story for internal audiences, like a vision keynote or a sales kickoff to rally the teams. In this webinar, CEO Nancy Duarte shares storytelling tips for creating a vision talk that inspires action during change initiatives. Nancy led her company through numerous industry shifts and economic downturns, and each one required a different type of vision talk to keep her employees motivated, engaged, and bought into the plan.

Do I need corporate storytelling training?

Corporate storytelling might sound easy on the surface. After all, you’ve probably been listening to and telling stories your entire life. But just like learning to code, learning to sell, or learning to lead is a skill, corporate storytelling is no different. It’s why you’ll want to invest in a training or workshop that can help you develop your storytelling skills specific to the corporate environment.

What to look for when evaluating corporate storytelling trainings

There are quite a few corporate storytelling workshops out there. Make sure to look for a corporate storytelling training that will help you tell stories in the medium that you use the most.

Great stories don’t just happen. Give yourself the tools that give you the strongest chance of success.

What goes into crafting a corporate story?

Corporate storytelling is part art and part science. The art part is the creativity and experience that comes with time. That’s why we’re going to focus on the science part. There are researched, tested, and proven techniques you can use to craft a corporate story. The next time you want to, or need to, build one, try these steps:

  1. Conduct a thorough audience analysis. You need to identify who you are trying to persuade with your corporate story, what makes them tick, why should they listen to you, and what good reasons they might have for challenging or rejecting your story. If you try to jump right into writing your story, it’s like addressing a love letter: “To whom it may concern.” Download our free Audience Needs Map™ to help you get started!

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  2. Clarify the goal you’re trying to achieve. Yes, stories are powerful. But you want to make sure you know exactly what you want your audience to do by the time you get to the end of the story. If you’re in a conversation with a customer early in the sales process, you aren’t trying to close the deal — you’re trying to convince the customer they should continue the conversation with you. If you want your employees to adopt a new process, you aren’t trying to get them to the finish line tomorrow — you’re trying to get them to take the first step. When you know exactly what you want them to do, you’ll have a solid filter for what makes it into your story and what gets left out.
  3. Gather your details. Pull together your research, data points, examples, testimonials, and any other content you think might become part of your corporate story. Don’t worry about putting everything together just yet. This is hunting and gathering mode. Keep focused on the task at hand and remember that more is often better when it comes to collecting the details.
  4. Apply story structure. You probably know some basics about storytelling structure, like stories have a beginning, middle, and end. But if you want to tell a strong corporate story, you’ll have to do better than that. Great stories build tension and then release it. You can do the same in your business presentation by using the story structure of “what is, what could be.” You’ll use those details you gathered and put them into this structure: call out the reality of “what is” happening with the correct situation or problem, and then you give them hope of “what could be” when your new path or solution is enacted. Organizing your information this way helps to drive toward your outcomes.


  5. Practice telling the story. Your job would be a lot easier if you could put it in the story structure and be done with it. But great corporate stories need great corporate storytellers. If you’re the one delivering the story, you need to practice telling it the way you’ll perform it. That might be standing up, or setting up a webcam, or even getting rehearsal time on the stage. Even if your story is in a document, or someone else will deliver it, you want to say the story aloud to make sure that everything flows and that you think it will achieve the goals you set out in step 2. If you need help overcoming a fear of public speaking, a stutter, or other mental blocks that trip you up when you take the stage, try hiring a speaking coach! They’re great at helping everyone from professionals to executives prepare, rehearse, and deliver their speeches flawlessly – no matter the challenge!

Who can use the corporate stories?

We’ve already said that corporate stories are for everyone, and we mean it. Here’s why people in different roles need to become corporate storytellers.

  • Executives need to be corporate storytellers. They need to speak externally and internally, and stories help them connect with their various audiences. They need stories to convince analysts and investors the company is on track to achieve its goals. They need stories to increase buy-in from their senior leaders and management team so there can be an effective cascade of information throughout the organization.
  • Managers need to be corporate storytellers. They need stories to convince executives and senior leadership teams to give them resources. They need stories to keep employees engaged and motivated when times are tough.
  • Marketers need to be corporate storytellers. They need stories to differentiate products and services, persuade sellers to use their sales enablement material, and make the case internally that marketing efforts are paying off.
  • Salespeople need to be corporate storytellers. They need stories to unpack the value and benefits of their company’s products and services.
  • Individual contributors need to be corporate storytellers. They need to be able to share their contributions in a way that showcases the value they bring to the organization.

Becoming a corporate storyteller

You can start working on your corporate storytelling skills in your very next meeting. It’s as simple as being aware of the power of a story and giving it a shot. Try to tell a story in your next meeting. Add a relevant story to the next email you need to send. Share a story with a coworker in the micro-kitchen or over a chat message.

If you want to try an approach with a more structured, instructor-led learning environment, check out these corporate storytelling trainings from Duarte:

  1. Learn how to use the story form to create a persuasive presentation in Resonate®
  2. Learn how to storyboard your talk in VisualStory®
  3. Learn how to craft actionable insights in Duarte DataStory®
  4. Learn how to deliver in a way that’s comfortable, dynamic, and empathetic in Captivate™

Ready to partner with Duarte to reimagine or reinvigorate your corporate story? Learn more about our brand and storytelling agency services.


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