Telling a great story is often the difference between being listened to and being heard. In law firms, you are potentially telling a great story whether you are pitching to a client, negotiating compensation or winning over leadership in the quest for resources and support. Outside of law firms we tell stories for many reasons, including connecting with one another, sharing ideas and creating community. Telling a great story is an important tool for lawyers and firms who need to relay who they are and what sets them apart.
The story being told can be broad (i.e., What is a firm’s mission statement?) or it can be narrow (i.e., What does that practice group leader want to convey in the second half of 2015?), but it must engage in order to lead to action. So, yes, a lawyer may say that he or she knows an industry well. But a story that specifically documents that knowledge and how it can be used to the advantage of a client will make much greater impact.
For many, the primary challenge is uncovering the stories in your firm. At a recent Wicker Park Group event, Steve Bynum, a senior producer with WBEZ – Chicago Public Media, shared this list of questions that, as he says, can lead to magic in storytelling:
- Why are you saying that?
- What happens next?
- What does that tell you?
- Why do you/we care about that?
- What did you make of that?
- What concerns you?
- What is the best/worst possible scenario?
- What are the consequences?
Ask these questions and see where the conversation leads. Once you understand the stories, you can use them to share truths, inspire internal clients and set the firm apart in a crowded marketplace.