The REAL Reason Business Storytelling Works

There is no such thing as a compelling story told by someone who isn’t personally invested in their own experience of it.

Relating a story by rote, or mechanically, will only serve to convince you that storytelling in business is a waste of everyone’s time. You won’t get the results you are looking for.

It will feel false to you, and worse, to your listeners.

Storytelling in business works because the storyteller has a personal experience of the story and they are modeling that experience in the act of telling the story.

A significant portion of communication is nonverbal, so the teller’s experience of the story directly affects the listener’s understanding.

In his widely misinterpreted study, Dr. Mehrabian comments as follows: “Generalizing, we can say that a person’s nonverbal behavior has more bearing than his words on communicating feelings or attitudes to others.”


An effective presenter has taken the time to integrate, and allow themselves to have been impacted by, the story. When they do so they have the essential key to powerfully transmit their experience via story. That is when they are modeling the behavior they wish their audience to adopt.

Translation: if you are going to employ storytelling for business, you better have a direct and personal connection to the material. If you don’t ‘buy’ it, why will your listener?

It takes extra work to involve yourself personally in the material you want to present. It’s so much more comfortable to maintain that professional distance we’ve grown accustomed to as proper business etiquette.

Unemotionality is the business suit of the heart, and it’s very out of fashion.