Effective storytelling is not about the words we utter, but our ability to move others to see future possibilities. How often have we heard the phrases, "We're the best-kept secret in our industry?" or "Why are we not agile in our capacity to meet the needs of our customers?" These moods of frustration or confusion limit our ability to see possibilities. Part of the breakdown is that we lack the awareness and skills to use language in a powerful way.
“Speech acts” are linguistic tools that can transform how your team addresses the concerns of customers and stakeholders. The commonsense view is that in speaking with others we are merely transmitting information. Instead, making requests, offers, declarations, promises, and assessments are the means to co-invent our future. How many times have we made requests of a potential donor, volunteer, or partner to support an institution and been dissatisfied with the outcomes of such conversations? The shift is to become aware how our requests, offers, and declarations live in the imagination of the listener and our ability to tune into the moods of our listener can transform our ability to create powerful partnerships.
When you listen for what moves your customers or stakeholders, you begin to see how your story needs to change. What inspires others to action on your behalf is often not the collection of things you think they need to know.