External vs. Internal Storytelling

A distinction I often play with is Internal vs. External Storytelling in the context of our daily professional conversations and communications, both formal and informal.

The function, the purpose of this storytelling, guides the form.

I think of external in terms of “closed” story. Here we are not interested in communicating to discover who we are or understand more clearly next steps. Rather what we are doing is sharing our brand identity in a whole story. This is marketing story. And when we share this story we are Brand Storytelling to create identification.

Some of internal story is “closed” in this sense- that we are selling an idea and the purpose of the communication is to get buy in. This is also Sales story and in that closely linked with the form of Marketing story.

What that means is the form of this kind of presentation should follow the persuasive purpose of a sales story.

That said, some of internal storytelling is “open” story.

We are communicating to discover, uncover, create a space for the emergent future. We’re like sharing insights or development on a project or strategy, but the purpose of the conversation isn’t so much to sell a complete idea but to create a space to develop the idea.

I think of this form as Design Story. It is emergent. It is also collaborative. And in that we are inviting our audience to help us create and tell the next part of the story. We are communicating to assess, discover, and learn.

Stay tuned to join in on more ramblings about the distinct types and forms of the stories we tell in our professional lives.