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8 Tips for Storytelling in Internal Communication
Campfire – Employer Branding Tools 23 February 2023

8 Tips for Storytelling in Internal Communication

Internal communication is part of the DNA of every organisation and every company. Entrepreneurial success today depends on whether internal structures allow the right people to be involved at the right time and to participate with motivation in finding solutions. The continuous exchange of information, ideas, knowledge and also interpersonal communication must function so that corporate culture can be lived in the first place.

The objective of communication within a company is therefore not only the exchange of information, but also the creation of a sense of “we”. For this, companies need fast channels, effective tools and concepts like storytelling that involve and motivate all team members.

Storytelling in der internen Kommunikation
Unsplash/Hannah Busing

Creating a basic connection through storytelling

Storytelling is one way to optimise your own internal communication. Captivating stories are particularly suitable for attracting attention and increasing the commitment of employees. Stories reinforce messages, make them more memorable and have a much more authentic effect than a soberly formulated email. They appeal to the emotional world of the employees and can thus build up trust and connection much more strongly. If, for example, people from one’s own team need to be won over for a corporate mission, then there must first be a basic connection to the company culture.

How stories help us build relationships with people

Internal stories awaken our understanding of people and concepts by triggering two essential processes: Transport and identification. Listeners are transported to another place and time through the story. This stimulates imagination and creativity. In addition, the audience can put themselves in someone else’s shoes and thus broaden their own perspective. This makes stories particularly helpful when it comes to rethinking prejudices, breaking down barriers or even changing relationships with people. But they also help to create a common basic understanding of goals, strategies and values within an organisation.

Stories in companies enable employee retention

Telling internal stories is what makes it possible to build an emotional bond with an organisation. For example, it is much easier to develop emotions such as sympathy for a company through stories told by employees than through dry figures and annual reports. Positive feelings about one’s own employer strengthen commitment, but also loyalty, and contribute to a positive work culture. Trust and transparency also benefit. If, for example, a company gets chatty about work procedures and decision-making processes, then even team members who may not be directly involved feel involved. At the same time, employers create the basis for transparent and trusting cooperation.

Storytelling in der internen Kommunikation
Unsplash/Brooke Cagle

But how do you tell exciting and good stories internally?

1. develop the origin story of your own brand

The first thing to do is to develop an origin story for your own brand. This is because a company’s origin story in particular has an influence on its internal culture. It clarifies the shared core values and makes employees proud. Companies like Patagonia, for example, use stories to tell about the impact of sustainable practices and regularly call on employees to share how they live sustainability in their daily lives.

2. team members must become storytellers

Employees should be a part of every story. No one can tell stories about their own company more excitingly and credibly than their own team. Therefore, it is important to invite them to participate and tell their stories. No matter whether they tell about their daily way to work, about special challenges they have mastered or about the company’s vision – nothing is more credible and likeable than one’s own colleagues. In fact, 92 per cent of people are more likely to trust a recommendation from their colleagues than the mere content of corporate communications.

3. choose the right tools for implementation

If a company knows what kind of stories it wants to tell, then it has to consider which tools and formats can be used to tell them. Here, the number of possibilities is unlimited. It doesn’t matter whether it’s videos showing employees in their everyday lives, internal newsletters or photo spreads – the more vivid, the better. Because pictures and especially videos arouse stronger emotions than pure text deserts. For example, if you want to share something internally about the growth of the company, then a picture series or even a video timeline is better suited than a dry list of annual figures.

4. repetitions are the be-all and end-all

In order for stories about brand vision, values and identity to really stick, companies should repeat them regularly. This does not mean that the same story has to be told over and over again, but that, for example, employees and managers report from their individual perspective on how they live specific corporate values in their daily work.

5. using leaders as “ice breakers

Especially in medium-sized and large companies, leaders are required to connect with all employees through internal communication. Storytelling can help to create this connection. For example, a manager can use a video to talk about initial difficulties in his or her own career or about the first day in the company. In this way, it is possible to establish a connection in a sympathetic and credible way, especially with new employees.

6. place stories correctly

To ensure that stories are heard by the team, they should also be made easily accessible. If messenger tools such as Slack are used in daily work, it is worthwhile to announce formats such as videos and newsletters or to call on employees to participate in the production. In this way, companies can ensure that their messages are heard and shared by everyone.

7. Simple language is more authentic

A simple and straightforward narrative is a must in internal corporate communication. Technical jargon comes across as cold and distant and does not exactly help employees to empathise with a message emotionally or even to sympathise with the person telling the story. A simple narrative that seems to be taken directly from life is much more engaging and authentic.

8. Tell descriptive and exemplary stories

The best stories captivate us because they succeed in immersing us in another world through vivid details. Corporate stories in particular should therefore contain many details and descriptions in order to better engage the audience. For example, if a storyteller creates a vision for the future of the company, it is important to describe it with concrete examples. This can include a description of the office of the future or of new technologies that will be used. The more detailed and exemplary a story is told internally, the better it will be received by the team.

Storytelling in der internen Kommunikation
Unsplash/Etienne Girardet

Motivating employees and strengthening the “we” with corporate storytelling

The current crisis, but also the shortage of skilled workers and remote working are contributing to the fact that internal communication is becoming increasingly important. More than ever, companies need to build a bond with their employees if they want to retain them in the long term and survive in the war for talent. With storytelling, it is possible to address employees on an emotional level and to tell messages and values in a varied and authentic way. This strengthens the sense of unity and motivation. Corporate stories and personal insights from individual team members reveal ideas and patterns of action that others can use in their daily work and with which they can identify.

You can find concrete ideas on how to optimise your internal communication with storytelling in times of remote work here.

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