I was recently asked in one of my business storytelling workshops a simple but important question: In what professions are storytelling skills important?
I thought a bit about it and the answer I came up with is: in pretty much every profession!
Well, you might think know that this guy has to say exactly this since he is blogging about the importance of storytelling; and you´re absolutely right!
But think one moment about what storytelling is actually good for: it is good to explain things and especially to make complex things simpler and abstract things more tangible; it is good if you want people to remember things; it is a really good persuasion tool; it is a good tool to trigger action; it is good to motivate people and create empathy; it is good as a planning tool and, yes, storytelling is a really, really good selling tool!
So in which professions do all these skills come in handy? Right! … in pretty much every profession!
Narrative medicine and lying politicians
Think about some unrelated professions and how having storytelling skills can help you succeed in those:
Historians — Hostorians always have write sense-making stories of the past and make connections to future ages. Studies showed that since history books in US high schools were written in a story format, the retention rate among students went significantly up.
Medics — “Narrative medicine” is a new buzzword I recently stumbled over. Professors in renowned medicine schools use ‘doctor stories’, written by famous authors, to teach students. With storytelling they go beyond clinical diagnoses and instead listen fully to patients´ stories which also allows them to connect emotionally with them.
Psychotherapists — Similar to doctors. Storytelling can be a catharsis for the patient. Story listening on the part of the therapist can open a productive communication with the patient. Stories can also be a really good sense-making tool for hidden meanings.
Teachers — Good teachers tell stories to deliver knowledge and make facts more entertaining and memorable .
Lawyers — Lawyers better have good stories to tell. They need to persuade the judge or the jury about their position. For lawyers storytelling it is mainly a persuasive tool.
Economists — Economists constantly have to put complex data and analysis in concise and sense-making future stories. They also use future scenario stories as a decision-making tool to help the government forming a decision. There is a very entertaining talk about narrative economics by nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8l6wLSPnYY
Politicians — That goes without saying. Politicians have to create scenarios about the future and convince people to follow them. For them it is mainly about putting positive-outcome-stories in other people’s heads.
…and so and so on… (storytelling is especially powerful of course in media, the arts and business related professions)
So go out there now and strengthen your storytelling skills. It will do you good. And your career.