How Internal Comms Engage Employees with Storytelling

A woman looks at a computer with the Inside the Enterprise blog logoDo your employees look forward to receiving your internal communications?

Communications that employees actually enjoy reading is real, right? If you want to get employees excited about where they work (and what you’re sending them), consider a storytelling approach to all your corporate communications. 

Storytelling as an Internal Comms Strategy

Regardless of platform or content type, storytelling is key to reader engagement. This isn’t just anecdotal; Studies like this one and this one show how storytelling can help forge personal connections, influence emotions, and shape attitudes.

If you’re not storytelling in your internal comms, you’re missing an opportunity to connect––in a memorable way––with your employees, who also happen to be your best brand advocates.

So, how can you integrate more storytelling into your internal comms? Here are a few ideas.

Adding Storytelling to Your Internal Comms

First, what makes for a good story? Humans easiest comprehend stories, which have a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can add interest to your stories using plot, drama, conflict, and resolution.  There are many simple story structures you can use to frame your narratives, and most include a hook near the beginning, which is an attention-grabbing idea or question.

Open a town hall with a story. Storytelling—whether it’s super relevant to the meeting or not—can make professionals and leaders more human and relatable. You’ve likely heard of the concept human-first or people-first; Storytelling provides an opportunity to do just that—put the human aspect front and center.

Before your next town hall, encourage the first speaker to open with a story. Rather than jumping into a slide packed with data, ask a leader to explain the why behind the data and how it was achieved. For example, if customer satisfaction increased, ask the leader to share a customer success or turn-around story, or invite an employee to share it, in order to illustrate the data to come, with the morale of the story being “more events like this lead to higher satisfaction”.

Liven up policy changes with story.  Policy and procedure communications are necessary but often overlooked as rote and often ignored by the very employees who need to act on the policy.  Often, they are missing the “why” behind the change, and often this can be brought to the surface with a story.  You might offer a simple before and after narrative, to highlight the difference and set expectations. 

Incorporate employee-generated stories. If you’re just starting to incorporate stories in your internal comms strategy, you may need to start with an internal email campaign for story submissions. This process needs to be incredibly simple and straightforward to encourage participation – so an email reply or link to web form will do, so long as you provide confirmation the input was received. . If there isn’t a clear, simple process for submitting a story idea, employees are unlikely to participate.

With a few employee-generated stories in hand, make this a permanent section to your regular communications, whether inside a newsletter or alongside another communications program. Maybe you create an “Out of Office” section that features stories from employees’ personal lives. Or a “What About Me” section spotlighting a different employee work story each week—whether they’re new to your organization or a long-time employee! Employees can write most of this content for you.

Share video testimonials. Short video clips are a great way to tell a story in a small amount of time. These videos don’t need to be highly produced to be effective. A talking head or selfie-style video created by an employee, leader, partner, or customer will do the trick.  Just be sure to include a beginning, middle, and end, and ensure the interviewer or storyteller is enthusiastic.

Intentionally incorporating stories and using story structure in your corporate communications will make them more engaging and more memorable. To add more storytelling into your internal comms strategy, ask for the story in your team meetings, add employee-generated stories to emails and articles, and share personalized video clips whenever possible. Take advantage of these storytelling opportunities to better connect with your employees!

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