Businesses need a balance of hard and soft skills for success. Find out how IBM invested in communication skills training for their top-tier executives. And how this transformed their lives.

Your organisation employs the best of the best. There’s no question that your business is on the road to success.

But the road to success involves many tools, traits, and abilities, including hard and soft skills. And is always a work in progress.

Being technically savvy certainly gives you an advantage. But it’s not the only aspect of success.

Communication skills are far more important. And they are worth investing in.

That’s what Speakers Institute does. 

They believe that good communication is paramount to success in the workplace. Their programs help you unlock that potential to improve professional development.

The masterminds behind the storytelling phenomenon are Sam and Kate Cawthorn. They saw an opportunity to help others speak like professionals so they founded and launched the Speakers Institute at the Google Headquarters in 2013. 

Since then the company grew exponentially and now includes over 40 trainers and facilitators.

Their aim?

They believe in building connections in a corporate environment. To this end, they developed a program to help unlock your storytelling potential.

While these soft skills may fly under the radar in the business world, innovative soft skills can make a difference between stagnation and success.

No one knows this better than IBM. The corporate giant is famous for its technological innovations. But they knew they needed more to maintain their competitive edge.

They wanted better leaders who communicated with their teams expertly. On top of that, they also wanted leaders who could speak to key stakeholders.

Successful professionals aren’t always the most eloquent. But they could be.

IBM wanted to improve their top people’s storytelling and communication skills. And they got a taste of what the Speakers Institute has to offer when they signed up for Bootcamp.

This wasn’t your average “team builder” Bootcamp. Everyone has the potential for communication mastery. The problem is that many don’t seek help unlocking this superpower.

That’s where the Speakers Institute training sessions come in.

Communication is about more than delivering presentations to team members and stakeholders. It’s about more than delivering a message. It’s also about building and maintaining strong relationships.

This confidence in communication has a bonus, too.

Employees who feel good about communication tend to facilitate innovation. That spells more ideas for the company to pursue.

Initially, IBM had a 2-day Bootcamp with the Speakers Institute. But they wanted more.

They saw the value in what the Speakers Institute provided. And they wanted to offer it to more people in the company.

A few months after the 2-day Bootcamp, they booked another one for 3-days.

The Vice President of GBS introduced the workshop. He also encouraged people to fly into Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India.

A handful of top-tier executives participated in the Bootcamp. And no one left the same.

Here is their story.

Find out how storytelling unlocked the potential of one of the world’s biggest companies.

Why is Storytelling Important?

Everyone loves stories. 

Great stories affect your brain on a chemical level. 

Think back to the last time you heard a good story. Do you remember feeling excited about the story? Or maybe you felt empathy for the protagonist.

Hearing a great story causes hormonal changes in the brain. These changes boost feelings like empathy, excitement, and a sense of reward.

Listening to endless statistics is boring. Looking at slide after slide of figures can make the most stalwart mind wander. But stories engage feelings and imagination.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never talk about statistics again. It may be in your job description.

However, the way you choose to relay those details can make all the difference in the world.

Even more, effective storytelling skills can boost confidence. Having the tools to tell a great story can help you be more proactive when speaking to others. It also has the power to inspire others to action.

How Corporate Executives Became Storytellers

Professional Bootcamps are par for the course in the business world. Almost every corporate employee attends them. But many probably don’t expect the transformation that these IBM executives received.

They heard the call for exploration when the Vice President of JGS invited them. These executives took time out of their busy lives to see what the fuss was about.

Little did they know that this trip to India could open them up to a whole new world of possibilities.

These are some of the experiences they had on their journey of exploration and transformation. 

#1 – Starting with Storytelling Basics on the First Day

Before you can run, you need to learn how to walk, right?

These executives attended the Bootcamp to learn how to communicate. But they needed a solid foundation to do so.

What better place to start than by telling your personal story?

That’s exactly what happened on day one of the Bootcamp. The facilitator knew that the group had to come together to create a positive learning environment.

Through the limiting beliefs workshop, the executives were ready to share more. By the time lunch rolled around, the group was ready to open up and share their stories.

Each one shared content based on their personal and practical transformations. They received instructions about how to structure this presentation.

But more importantly, these virtual strangers felt comfortable enough to show vulnerability to the rest of the group. This air of trust made it easier to move forward with the curriculum because everyone wanted to participate.

#2 – Mounting Excitement and Anticipation on the Second Day

By the second day, anticipation filled the air. The first day was such a great success. What could Day #2 possibly bring?

The group dynamic started from the minute everyone entered the room. There were no additional ice breaker exercises needed. The camaraderie from the previous day was already present.

Building on the previous day’s work, the participants continued learning and practicing more skills. This time it was how to grab attention and be interactive.

There was excitement in the air. They were eager to learn more, and these new skills went off without a hitch. They even learned to be a bit humorous when delivering a presentation.

#3 – Nonverbal Connections on the Third Day

When the last day of Bootcamp rolled around the participants were ready. It was time to reveal the ultimate tool of storytelling – nonverbal communication.

This was eye-opening for many participants.

After all, how often do you think of the message that you’re sending with your facial expression or hands?

The answer is: not very often.

It amazed them how much they told an audience without saying a word. And they learned how to use those facial expressions and hand gestures on purpose.

#4 – A Journey of Transformation

Imagine the transformative quality when you give your thoughts a voice.

You may think that everyone communicates, though. So, how is this different?

This is communication with intention and influence. It’s about framing your message into a story format that captures the audience’s attention.

As the participants saw, it was also about allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Storytelling is deeply personal, and so is the learning process.

But unlocking their communication potential gave them the confidence to speak in front of anyone – about anything.

#5 – Personal and Professional Growth

When was the last time you went to a business Bootcamp and walked out a better person?

That’s exactly what happened to these participants.

They opened up about their limiting beliefs and did some self-exploration. They learned how to tell their personal stories. And they learned how to translate those skills in the professional arena.

Truly, their enhanced communication skills can open new doors professionally. But they could enhance personal relationships, too.

Think of how they can captivate friends and family with their new storytelling skills. Understanding how to communicate can help them form deeper relationships socially as well as in business.

#6 – Great Experience and Feedback

In short, these top-tier executives had a great experience. They learned about themselves and each other. 

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They especially liked what they learned about nonverbal communication.

Many of them probably returned to work a little more conscious about what they say with their facial expressions and hand gestures.

It was such a success that IBM wants to book more Bootcamps. They want more of their people to master the art of storytelling.

Imagine the mountains they can move if they master this important, but so elusive soft skill.

Open Up a New World of Possibility with Storytelling

The Speakers Institute understands that success in the corporate world involves more than technical skills. You need to master the art of storytelling.

IBM understood this from their first booked Bootcamp. That’s why they scheduled a more extensive one soon afterwards. And the IBM executives in attendance understood the point.

It wasn’t about becoming a better speaker. 

That was one of the tools of the Bootcamp. But it wasn’t the point of it.

The point was to become a better person by understanding the fine art of communication. Storytelling has the power to change minds and influence the world.

So, the IBM participants didn’t simply learn another business skill. They discovered a whole new way of expression. And that type of power can transform lives. Every business can benefit from storytelling mastery. If you’re ready to transform your business, contact us at the Speakers Institute for more information.