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Storytelling lessons from church

If you are a customer experience professional then you are likely called upon to make a number of presentations. And if that is the case, it helps to be a good storyteller. After all, people really want to know the story behind the data. Being a good storyteller gets people engaged and is a more effective way to help people understand customer insights and take action on them.

My role model for storytelling is a priest.

Most religious denominations have a portion of their weekly service where the presider (priest, minister, rabbi, etc.) delivers a sermon or homily on a particular topic. At my church the priest uses storytelling effectively and there is a consistent pattern to his delivery. 

  • Start with a story. He walks out in front of the congregation, pauses for five seconds or so, and then launches into a story. Most times you have no idea where he is going with this story which only makes you listen more intently. Just as important is what he doesn't do. He never starts with, "It's good to see everyone today," or "Today I'm going to talk about …" or any sort of introduction. He just starts.
  • Connect the story to the theme. Whether the story is dramatic or funny, he then transitions to talk about the theme of his talk. Typically the connection is smooth and answers that original question, "where is he going with this?"
  • Another story. After elaborating on the theme he almost always tells another story that really solidifies and reinforces his main points. Sometimes it is a real-life example that serves as inspiration. 
  • Conclusion and action. He wraps up by tying the theme together and providing suggestions on what it all means and what we should do. 

I believe customer experience leaders can use a similar pattern. Start with a story to lead into your presentation. Share relevant customer insights and connect them to the story. Interject another story to add impact and provide some inspiration – consider including direct quotes from customers. Conclude by summarizing what action should take place and what impact it will have.

Storytelling is a great skill for CX leaders to develop. It's an excellent way to get people engaged and to prompt action.  

 

Patrick Gibbons
Principal, SVP

Walker

About the Author

Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons

As Principal and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. Gibbons has published and/or contributed to a number of articles, papers, and blogs on customer intelligence topics and has a regular column in CRM Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences, and has produced a series of educational events for customer experience leaders.

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0 thoughts on “Storytelling lessons from church

  1. Great lesson. This is a topic I have recently started studying. I agree with you completely and will strive to achieve this skill starting in 2015.

  2. Thanks Milista,

    It is an interesting topic. I’ll be leading a workshop on CX Storytelling at the 2015 Walker CX Summit in Seattle and welcome any input.

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