Thought Leadership and the age old power of Storytelling

Name: Nathan Hunter and the ThoughtLDR Team
Date: Mar 20, 2024

As a former English Literature & Creative Writing student, it’s pretty obvious that I have a passion for storytelling. So today, on World Storytelling Day, I volunteered to delve into the power of storytelling and why I believe it's as vital today as it ever has been in human history.  

In a recent post, our agency founder Tamara Sword explored the differences between Marketing, Public Relations and Thought Leadership – and how thought leadership is “the new kid on the marketing block.” 

While marketing is what your company says about itself, PR is the art of shaping what others are saying about your company. Thought leadership on the other hand is what you say about your industry and the trends, challenges and forces that impact your customers in ways they don’t always fully realise. This is why thought leadership goes hand in glove with storytelling. 


Why thought leaders tell a story

Thought leadership works best when you help your audience - your prospective customer - realise something new. Storytelling is a technique thought leaders often use because it uses narrative to help the audience make new connections. 

But this is where people so often go wrong. Instead of storytelling, all too often they slip into selling. And in that moment, the chance to engage and inspire their audience into deeper understanding and action is lost. 

The truth is, in this non-stop highly commercial world, we’ve all built up pretty good defences against being sold to. Even people in business - or should I say, especially people in business. 

Storytelling helps your audience let their guard down and see things anew. It builds rapport, trust and respect - all essential elements in building a sales relationship.

Storytelling before selling

Nick Fellingham is the Co-founder and CEO of Condense, the only company in the world to enable live, 3D video streaming. Condense is a deeply deeptech company, founded by brilliant engineers.

Nick is a bit of a unicorn because he’s an engineer by training who also understands how storytelling lays a foundation for effective sales. “When we started Condense - there was a tendency to steer into talking about the tech,” Nick told the audience at ThoughtLDR's Cambridge Tech Week event.

“And actually, by focusing on storytelling, customers are more interested. Most don’t care that you have the highest speed algorithms or use neural networks. We got more interest from investors and customers by telling stories in a non-promotional way. By talking about where the industry and the world is going, you’re able to attract more interest - and you’re not being a pushy salesperson.”

(If you have five minutes, check out Nick’s Medium blog here.) 

As we like to say at ThoughtLDR, people buy from people. Even when they’re buying technology.  

Back at university, I learned that great storytelling is the art of showing, not telling.” Great novelists paint a picture with words but leave the reader to connect the dots. Much like writers, thought leaders give us stories that help us make sense of our own lives, our jobs, our industries and our world - and as we join the dots, we want to work with them because they help us find our own answers. 

Storytelling is human

Storytelling has likely always been a part of what it is to be human. It is a defining cornerstone of human connection. It allows us to walk in the shoes of others, to imagine alternate lives, to simultaneously hold perspectives different to our own.

Hestia was the Greek goddess of the hearth. She played an important role in the lives of the Ancient Greeks, often depicted as at the heart of family and society. The hearth was where families gathered to eat and keep warm, but it was also where they would share stories - the myths and legends that helped them make sense of their world.

The hearth has been replaced by new places where we gather - LinkedIn, YouTube, conferences to name a few – but our need for thought leaders and their stories to help us make sense of our world remains unchanged. 

If you want to explore if thought leadership makes sense for you and your company, get in touch by clicking the link below.


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