Three Ways to Use Storytelling in the Workplace

Written By Anna Sullins


Cultivating Change

There was a time when the world turned ever so slightly slower.  Ladies and gentlemen found ample time for civilized pursuits.  No one felt obliged to hurry through the day, though some did so by choice.  There was a time when recreation actually could create things anew.  It was a more tranquil time. It was last week at Biltmore.

These few lines weave together a beautiful story that is the heart of Biltmore’s promise to our guests each day.  This story may sound familiar, as it was told through television commercials in recent years.  The story seems to transcend a simple family vacation or weekend getaway to become a respite from the hurried world around us.  It is compelling, captivating, and enchanting – because it is a story.

Most of us know a charismatic storyteller.  We are naturally drawn to him at parties, we gravitate toward her at family gatherings, and we hang on their every word when watching them perform.  But how many great storytellers do you know within the four walls of the workplace?  Chances are, you rarely hear a captivating story at work that does not involve weekend adventures.  Stories seem counter to corporate culture when, in reality, they can play a critical role in your organization’s success when used in a strategic way.  Here are three Biltmore ways you can drive your business forward using storytelling:

1. Use Storytelling to Lead Change
Do you have a new product launch, an upcoming change, or an organizational concern that must be addressed?  Rather than reaching for traditional business approaches, try storytelling to turn the tide. You might consider using pictures and stories rather than bullet points in your next business presentation to illustrate core ideas.   

Storytelling is one of the oldest tools of influence, and can generate a sense of urgency in others, creating a shared vision and inspiring those around us to take action.  Stories work masterfully at winning the hearts of your audience which, in turn, wins the mind.  

2. Use Stories to Influence Key Stakeholders
Stories are effective at creating connections with your employees as well.  A well-crafted story can move our colleagues to turn planning into execution. At Biltmore, we used the power of story to gain buy-in for the Vanderbilt Wine Club by equipping our wine-servers with stories to share with our guests, rather than listing typical facts for them to sell. Over the years, we have learned that a sincere story can connect with employees at an individual level in a way data and straightforward facts never will, and the emotional connection stories create can soften even your toughest critics.

3. Tell Stories to Create Customer Loyalty
We have found that storytelling as a business strategy is a competitive advantage for Biltmore, and it can be for your business, as well.  What is your story?  How is it being told?  Who is it reaching?  How can you leverage it?

You can learn how to use Storytelling as a Business Strategy at our workshops on Biltmore Estate. Contact Us for more information.

Anna Sullins is Biltmore's manager of training and development, guiding the education and career pathing of Biltmore's staff.