You can also watch this interview on my Youtube Channel
*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.
Arek Dvornechuck: What’s up branding experts? — Arek here at Ebaqdesign, And welcome to On Branding Podcast my guest today is Steve Multer. And Steve is a corporate storytelling expert, and over the years he has delivered countless talks and trained numerous brands, including brands like Cisco, Panasonic, Siemens, Fujifilm, HP, Bayer, Volvo, LG, Xerox, Intel, and many other brands. So he has also published his new book called: Nothing Gets Sold Until the Story Gets Told. And so Steve has the ultimate authority when it comes to corporate storytelling. So this is what we are gonna talk about on today’s podcast.
Hello Steve! Thanks for joining us today.
Steve Multer: Hi Arek. Thank you so much. That was a lovely introduction. I very much appreciate it. It’s good to be with you and with all of your listeners and supporters.
Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, thank you for your time. I really appreciate this. So nowadays when we think about successful branding it’s measured more by how well we can connect with our audience, with customers, with partners, and so on. It’s about great storytelling. So maybe we can start with something simple. Can you break down for us what makes it? poor versus a compelling story.
Steve Multer: Oh, that is exactly the right way to start. So the way I look at corporate storytelling, what all that means, and corporate storytelling, by the way, is simply the idea of combining your topic with your own personal experiences in a way that your audience, whether that’s one person or a room full of 10,000 people, a way that they can relate to, that they can find value in, that they can become passionate about. And those are really the three pillars of what I think makes for a great corporate story Value, Passion, and Connection. Does your story, whatever you’re talking about, does it bring value to the people or the person that you are speaking with? Does it create meaningful value for them in a way that elevates them in some way that makes them more successful, that opens up a new path to success or creates a better status quo for their future?
Can you create value? Second, can you tell a story whether that’s within a product pitch or a sales conference, whatever the nature of the communication or the interaction is? How can you share your passion about that topic in a way that inspires passion in them? And then the third element is, can you create a connection in your interactions and in your communications that makes whoever you’re speaking with feel that they know you, that they understand you.
You develop a sense of trust and credibility before the content of your message. Even hits them. So when you talk about weak versus strong storytelling, successful versus not successful, I think it fundamentally comes down to are you able to include in your topic, in your conversation, great value, passion, and connection.
Or are those things simply omitted and left out for the sake of data, statistics, metrics, numbers, KPIs, all the things that they could just as easily read off of a website? Instead of having a conversation with you, I think that marks the real difference between those two levels.
Arek Dvornechuck:Yeah. Exactly. So just to sum up for our listeners, as you mentioned, the three main ingredients of great storytelling is the value, passion, and connection, it’s a great segue by the way that you just mentioned So nowadays it’s not about just talking about your company in terms of the metrics, right? We all have been through those boring keynote presentations, right? Where we’re just, on our phones or not really engaged, because the speaker cannot create that connection with us, cannot, inspire us, and like. Convey that passion that maybe he or she has, but it’s just doesn’t know how to, convey that and express that and connect with other people. So, As you mentioned, it is not about talking about metrics and those are important, but it’s about how you tell the story, right? It’s more about connecting with people. And their personal values. Can you break down for us what’s the typical process of writing a great story? Where to start? Do you have like a specific, step-by-step process that you go through, or maybe some tips and tricks that you use?
Steve Multer: It’s a great question, Arek. So. Typically what will happen with the vast majority of speakers, and by the way when I use the term speaker and audience, we tend to think of one person standing on a stage or in front of a camera in the spotlight and a bunch of people listening to that conversation. I use speaker and audience to mean any sort of interaction between two individuals. At any moment, someone is speaking and someone else is listening, and then if we’re doing it correctly, that dynamic shifts the other person speaks. The other person listens. So speaker and audience are what you and I are doing right now. At the moment, I’m the speaker, you’re the audience. A moment ago, you were the speaker. I’m the audience we create that balance with one another, so all of these concepts of great corporate storytelling, they’re the same if you are speaking one-on-one with a colleague. Or one-on-one with a partner or one-on-one with one of your C levels in your organization as they are speaking to a camera at maybe 20,000 people who are tuning into a conference. Same concept. So fundamentally, the problem that most speakers tend to have is that we play to safety and expediency. Our lives are very busy. We are already jam-packed. We’re probably working 60-hour weeks just trying to keep up with the demand. So all of a sudden when we have to communicate in some way. It takes more time out of our calendar that we don’t have. So what do we do? We go to the website. We copy and paste legal documentation or legalese and acronyms that we know are approved and that are safe, and we put them into a script or into the content that we want to cover. And the problem is that doesn’t communicate. That was meant to be read off of a webpage or read in a white paper or an email.
It wasn’t meant to be communicated face-to-face. So when I work with organizations with large corporations, multinationals, or with individual executive speakers, what I’ll do is say, all right, let’s start by stepping back and asking some pre-game questions. Who are you speaking to? How can you create value for that person? My favorite mantra is don’t tell them what you want to tell them. Tell ’em what they want and need to hear. That is how you guarantee that your communication will be successful. So before you get to what you want to cover, let’s pull back and let’s look first, who am I talking to and why? Why do we need this face-to-face interaction?
Why can’t I just send you an email? Or send you an attachment in a PDF and say, read this one. You’ve got a little free time. If I’m gonna take time out of your busy life for the two of us to talk, there better be a good reason, and I better make it valuable and exciting and interesting and engaging for you. So asking some good pregame questions in advance.
Why am I giving this talk? What value do I want to create for them? How do I make them more successful with the communication and the conversation we’re about to have? And until I know those things, I can’t now incorporate the documentation or the capabilities or those statistics or metrics into my conversation, because otherwise, I could just be spitting those into the wind. It’s a scattershot approach where I’m just pitching everybody in the same way, and the first line that I have in the book is none of us like to be pitched, but everyone loves a great story. So that’s usually my starting point. How do we begin before we begin the content?
Arek Dvornechuck: As the first step, you just analyze who are we talking to. Why we are giving the talk and so that we can focus on the audience specifically and we can think about what they want to hear rather than. You know We just want to communicate, right? So it’s not about dry information, it’s about maybe conveying that dry information in a more engaging and compelling way through great storytelling, right?
Through making that connection with our audience. Okay. So once we’ve, since we’ve covered that can you give us some examples? Because I believe our listeners they would like to. you know hear about some examples maybe of either a great storytelling when it comes to what do you think, what are the best brands nowadays? Or maybe the leaders of these brands, perhaps Elon Musk, right? Who are really good at storytelling, who always, talk about the purpose of the company or the, or their vision.
Steve Multer: So we are surrounded by them. And it’s interesting because I think they’re rare corporations that are fantastic natural storytellers that understand how to communicate with the human before communicating with the wallet. I think they’re rare, but we’re surrounded by great examples. The one that I always go to is Apple as the world’s most valuable. Apple is phenomenal at corporate storytelling. We have a lot of them. Nike McDonald’s plays very well to it. I could go on and on with a number of them, but let’s go with Apple for just a moment. Apple learned long ago. First of all, fantastic origin story with Apple, a couple of college dropouts in their garage who built this thing up from scratch and tried to make a more communicative and connective form of interaction.
Every one of us can relate to that concept of a story right up till today, the products that they sell. Apple never sells us a phone. Apple doesn’t sell us a computer. Apple doesn’t sell us a listening device. They don’t give us the technology and the capabilities of the camera within the phone. What they do is they sell us on a lifestyle, a very simple interaction.
Ease of connectivity, cool, sleek, simple to use, fundamental by design. A beautiful arena and world that we all wanna live in. And then if we’d like to get there and be a part of their vision, guess what? All we have to do is go out and purchase their product and we too can be a member of that beautiful picture.
Even something I mentioned in the book, even when you see a billboard for Apple phones, you’ll see one of those shot on iPhone photos, and you’ll notice that Apple isn’t even really branded. Who do they highlight? The photographer who took the picture. That’s who is up there on the billboard. That’s who they are focused on, not themselves, the megapixels, the capabilities of the camera, the power of the lenses, the speed of the lenses, and the transition.
Nobody cares about that beautiful photo. Here’s the person that took it. Wouldn’t you like to be that person? That’s a good rock-solid corporate storytelling that hooks us in and then we go back and research the details of the phone to determine whether or not it’s right for us. So I think Apple is a fantastic corporate storytelling leader.
Arek Dvornechuck: That’s a great example. So thank you for sharing that. I think, since we all know Apple, most of us use their product, especially creatives use Apple products, so we can all relate to that and understand the concept. So maybe now we can talk about it since we have some examples of how to get really comfortable either on stage or on camera. Do you have any tips for, public speaking and in general, how to be more engaging with your audience?
Steve Multer: Oh, one of my favorite questions. I’m so glad that you asked that. The shift into the pandemic. If we think about the way the pandemic operated in January of 2020, you and I were still in the room together with one another, and I could stand on a stage, I could walk off the stage. You and I could shake hands. We could figure out what worked and what didn’t. I could see your interaction and your feedback. I could ask you questions. Watch the hand go up, watch the smile, watch the nodding head three months later in March. You and I were doing this with one another. We were looking into the camera lens and trying to basically recreate the nature of an interactive experience. So as I coached a lot of speakers through the pandemic, and fortunately, we’re now back to in-person, which is wonderful, but we still have this technology, which I think is brilliant. I had to let people understand that speaking to a camera really is no different than speaking to somebody in person. The fundamentals stay the same. I am still here to create value for you. I’m still here to show you how passionate I am about what I do and what I believe in or about my topic, and I’m still here to create a connection with you. The difference is there’s no feedback loop. I can’t see whether or not you’re responding. I can, you’re on my laptop here, but in general, if I’m speaking to a camera lens to a piece of glass. I don’t get that feedback loop, so it’s up to me to do two things. First when we’re on stage in front of people. Our audience is everywhere. I’ve got people over here, I’ve got people here. I’ve got people here. So I can walk the stage, I can wander. I can take everyone in by looking around. Right now, if I want to communicate with you, a hundred percent of my audience lives in one spot, which makes my life easier, makes my job easier. I can communicate with everybody in the room by looking in one space. So communication, connection with the camera is vital. Now, I can’t see your feedback in the moment, but I know what it is and I know it based on history. You mentioned this earlier in our conversation. We don’t come to any talk as an individual who has never spoken in front of others before, we know that if we are creating value, people are going to be responding, so even though I can’t see your face, I know you’re out there gaining value from what I say, because I believe in what I say and I’ve taken enough time to put it together in an intelligent way to create value for you, so as long as I’m in that camera, I know you’re out there. Number two, we tend to get sidetracked by our slide deck, so when I’m working with a speaker, If you’re standing on stage and you have confidence monitors, or you have a large screen behind you if you look anywhere but into the camera, it’s like being live on stage and doing your entire presentation like this and showing the back of your head to your audience the entire time you speak. That’s the same as instead of me looking here, me looking down here at my slides and at all of my notes, I’m creating no connection with you. I’m interacting with my slide deck on the screen, so if we can just remember to give our audience full attention, live with them in that camera lens and remember they are, everybody is living, breathing, and present as if they were sitting in front of us right now.
There’s no difference. You’re still taking time out of your valuable day. You are still committing time to me. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon me to create value for you and remain connected to you. If you can remember those two things, keep your eyes into the camera and remember that they are just as alive and present through the camera as they were when they were sitting in the room in front of you. You will win. Your communication will soar. You will create success not only for yourself but for everyone in your audience.
Arek Dvornechuck:That’s a great tip. In general. So eye contact, right? and imagining that there is someone behind the lens who is listening to you and just, based on our experience, communicating with other people. Like real-life experiences, we can kind of imagine how they react or respond and stuff like that. And just remember to keep eye contact and look at the lens so that way, they can see you looking at them and connect more with what you have to say, right?
Steve Multer: Let me mention one more thing. I’m sorry to interrupt. Another thing that I always recommend, is on camera, people don’t like to ask questions when we’re on camera because our thought is I can ask a question of my audience, but they’re not sitting here to respond, so why would I bother? I actually disagree with that.
Every time you engage the audience and you encourage their response, even if you can’t see or hear it, you are creating a two-way street. You are opening up that communication through the lens in a way that says, I still see you out there and I still want to know your part of the conversation. So you can ask rhetorical questions. How many of you have had this particular experience before? Think about it. Have you felt that before? Yeah, I’m sure you have. I can’t see you nodding and responding, but I’ve now asked you a question. I’ve engaged your feedback. We even have studies that show that people will even raise their hands at home.
So, how many of you have realized that you need a faster meantime to resolution than you’ve experienced before, but you don’t have the software to make it happen? Put your hand up. and there are people who sit in their living rooms, they’re in their offices, and they’re like, yep, that’s me. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Because you are reaching through that camera to let them know, I see you, and I want you to be an equal part of this conversation along with me asking questions, a great way to create more communication and connection.
Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, that’s a great tip as well. And I’ve incorporated that in, into my videos as well. Just asking questions. You are not getting the response right? If it’s a pre-recorded let’s say like a video, like a YouTube video but still it’s going to be more engaging. at the end of the day, right? You can ask them to leave a comment and stuff like that. And then you will get a two-way communication anyways, right? Or at least a response as you mentioned, you know, raising a hand or something like that. Giving them time to think or respond in their heads and stuff like that. An awesome tip and I know that you just published a new book, right? So we gonna link to this book in the description below for you guys to check out. There is a lot of great things-
Steve Multer: And I didn’t get this in the mail to you and I apologize. One is on the way to you and I meant to send it before, but I’ve been over in Europe for the past three weeks and I haven’t had a chance to send it out, my bad.
Arek Dvornechuck: Awesome. No problem. And I would love to check it out as I would like to, I improve, you know, myself as well as a public speaker, you know, recording YouTube videos, doing this podcast as well. And so on. We are constantly learning and improving. I would love to check it out in more detail. Okay. So we are gonna link to your book and your website is stevemulter.com. First last name?
Steve Multer: Let me get a different one stevemulter.com is great, that’s all of my speakings, but I think for your listeners and your viewers, check out corporatestorytelling.com. So it’s a different site that’s specifically dedicated to what we’ve been talking about today. And another reason to go is I have a freebie for everybody who is interested in doing this. I’ve created a really fun, cool Eguide. That’s called Five Paths to Passionate Storytelling and it’s five very easy things that anyone, at any level in their career, any level of education, exposure, speaking experience, socioeconomic level, location, anybody can put into play right now to instantly elevate your ability to connect and be a better corporate storyteller, so if you go to corporatestorytelling.com/guide, And then put in the code soldtold23, so soldtold23, all lowercase. You can get that Eguide for free and I think it’ll be of a lot of benefits for everybody who’s interested.
Arek Dvornechuck: soldtold23. Okay. That’s awesome. So we are gonna put that in the description as well. Thank you for this, freebie. Thank you for this, this is really going to be viable for our audience. So it’s a PDF, right?
Steve Multer: It’s pdf. Very simple. Anybody can grab it.
Steve Multer: And share it around, share it, sprinkle it everywhere.
Arek Dvornechuck:Okay, great. So we are gonna link to that as well. And now let us know how we can connect with you. Are you active on LinkedIn?
Steve Multer: Very active on LinkedIn. If you search Steve Multer, boy, I’m gonna pop up everywhere and my apologies in advance for that. But Steve M-U-L-T-E-R do a search for that. You’ll find me on LinkedIn. All of the social media sites, you’ll find the websites everything about the book more than you could ever want to know.
Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you so much, Steve. Thanks for coming on the show.
Steve Multer: Arek, has been such a pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity, and the platform, and it’s been a delight to converse with you thank you to all of your listeners and viewers for being a part of this as well.