Franchise Storytellers

What Leaders Can Learn About Storytelling From Reality TV

Love it or hate it, reality TV is entrenched in today’s culture, and it teaches a valuable lesson in business communications. As a leader or business communicator you have a story to tell, as does a reality show producer. Like a cast member in a TV show, you are, in effect, a character when you appear before an audience, speak to the media or engage with social media users.

Reality show producers cast a variety of characters who elicit different emotional reactions from viewers. Janet and I happen to be big Amazing Race fans. If you are not a viewer, the show features pairs of competitors who race around the world for, as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies said, “One meeeeeelion dollars.” The teams are often friends, spouses and co-workers who must face daunting challenges or be sent home. Some characters are warm and likeable, others arrogant and despicable; some we cheer on, others we hope get detoured and eliminated. The casting formula is the same for virtually all reality shows – there are always characters that viewers love and villains they hate.

As a character, how do you want and need to be perceived? Warm and friendly? Likeable? Engaging? Trustworthy? Confident? Inspirational? Aggressive? Think about your past communications, as well as those of others who represent your organization. Consider everything from words, voice, tone and style to appearance and mannerisms. If you and your spokespersons were in a reality show, would you be the type of character that people love? Or the villain they love to hate?

You and your organization can have a great story, but you need the right characters to tell it effectively.