Why Entrepreneurs Need to Embrace Storytelling

A workshop by Siemens Stiftung at Sankalp Africa Summit 2019

Social entrepreneurs find themselves constantly communicating with diverse stakeholders, from potential investors and service providers to employees and end customers. However, communication with stakeholders cannot always be limited to data and statistics. What appeals to people is stories, because good stories and narratives are what people register in their memories.

As a social entrepreneur, it is important for you to embrace and improve your storytelling skills for the following reasons:

1. Facts and figures don’t always work: While numbers are a crucial part of your narrative, they don’t always communicate your enterprise’s philosophy, value proposition & vision clearly. Researches conducted over the years have suggested that our brains have a factual memory, which stores individual facts, and an episodic memory, which stores events, experiences and stories. Episodic memory is the reason why stories have a stronger impact on people’s memories.

2. Stories connect local narratives to a larger issue: By sharing stories of the people you impact on ground, you can connect your local narrative with a larger, global cause. Businesses around the world are restructuring their communication strategy to align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and by sharing authentic impact stories, you can communicate how your business is working towards achieving the SDGs.

3. Storytelling helps build a bridge between hard facts & emotional aspects of your business: Storytelling allows for creativity and helps explain things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to explain to stakeholders with ease. Especially, in terms of marketing your products and services, storytelling helps you visualize the true difference you are making in people’s lives.

4. A tool for organizational development: Good narratives can be used for organizational development, by explaining the value proposition of a business, identifying and overcoming communication gaps to improve understanding between partners in an enterprise, revealing constraints, conflicts, and cultural patterns of behavior, and facilitating marketing and advertising.

5. Stories play a role in knowledge management: Most CEOs feel that most of their organization’s information & know-how is locked inside their mind. Storytelling can be used as a tool to help employees share their experiences with each other, and in turn, create a new and open knowledge sharing structure.

To improve storytelling skills of social entrepreneurs, Siemens Stiftung created a hands-on workbook to support social entrepreneurs, business trainers and coaches in developing practical skills as a storyteller. This workbook was shared with delegates at the Sankalp Africa Summit 2019 in a curated workshop which allowed for exploration and live practice of different tools that are showcased in the workbook.

The Sankalp Africa Summit is one of Africa’s largest convenings for impact investing, which connects high impact enterprises with key players across the value chain. Read more about Sankalp here.

You can download the workbook for free here.

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