The Importance of Storytelling in Growing Your Business
By Fatima Gorezi
Katja Schleicher is a trainer, coach, personal brand builder and keynote speaker specialised in communication, storytelling and intercultural communication. She trains and consults companies and organisations in finding and telling their corporate stories to emotionalise the public awareness of their brands. Storytelling in business is an integral part of our lives. Stories connect people with other people, businesses, brands, products, and their goals. Katja is passionate about women empowerment as well. She believes that the future of business is female and there is no better time for women to be in business than now.
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
European by heart – in my work as an expert in all things communication, I train executives and teams in developing their dialogue and narrative skills as much as their abilities when it comes to pitching, presenting and speaking on stage. I do that in German, English and Dutch. So Story-Work, Personal Branding & Rhetoric and intercultural communication are at the heart of impact! Regarding communication, I set up the Pan-European-Trainings-bureau in 2006.
I dive into and solve daily communicative and inter-cultural misunderstandings, mostly in business; with mergers & acquisitions, between companies, colleagues, departments, women & men, etc.
I built my personal brand around a direct, practical and zero-nonsense approach, which stays always in close empathy to the person(s) I’m working with and never losing focus towards the goal the clients want to achieve.
You train & consult companies and organisations in finding and telling their corporate stories, aiming to emotionalise the public awareness of their brands. Would you like to elaborate a little more on what that is like?
It’s simply magic to observe when the audience gets the “AHA” moments of their own story and brand. From that moment, nothing, truly nothing, can hold them back to discover, develop and tell their stories. Gone are the things that usually hold them like stage fright, finding excuses or not daring to speak up. The moment they see the tools they can use to reach their goals is making them courageous.
When did you begin to have an interest in public speaking? At the time, were you actively seeking something to help you get better, or was it something you kind of stumbled upon?
If you’d ask my mum, she’d say that I’ve been doing that forever. Since I’ve been in school I realised that communication and public speaking came easy to me. Knowing that you have to nurture your talents and teach others, I studied communication science, linguistics and psychology. From the first day of my corporate career I was in communication and gathered experience in all departments, from Marketing, PR, Corporate communication and even TV production. Thanks to that broad experience, I was able to step into my second career as trainer, coach and KeyNote Speaker.
Did you have a “point of no return” moment around the time that you got into public speaking and coaching, where you had to move forward?
No. I simply had no other choice. I was lucky enough that things I do best and love to do most came early and easy to me. So I could quickly focus on teaching others.
When did you first realise that public speaking and coaching had a positive impact on your career and self-esteem?
Already in school I was the one who could put the most impactful words to the ideas that others had in mind but were struggling to get out properly. That became my professional mission. I strongly believe that talking is gold, while silence the beginning of all trouble. That is always the starting point in the Storytelling, media training or Public Speaking work I do with my clients all over Europe.
What drives you to keep pushing forward even when you don’t feel like it?
I always feel like it. I can’t remember a moment where it was necessary to keep pushing forward. This vision of resolving communicative issues and diminish misunderstandings gives me more than enough energy. I’m rather the woman who needs to be held back.
How have the challenges & setbacks you’ve faced helped you become the person you are today? If you could go back & not have to experience one of your bigger challenges or setbacks, why or why wouldn’t you?
I learnt the most about myself in working with others; in the different impacts I do have on others. It’s not easy to accept when you realise that your personality and ways of doing things are polarising. Not being everybody’s darling, having strong opinions and not being afraid of telling sounds nice, but it is a much harder journey and learning curve than I expected. It simply takes more time and energy to find the clients that are exactly looking for the strengths you have and the skills you provide. But after that, the collaboration with these clients and seeing their public & brand communication blossoming, is pure joy.
What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a kid? Does any aspect of that relate to what you do now?
I was torn between investigating Goethe’s soul and organising geographical expeditions. Honestly! But it soon became clear that it was the art of teaching I was truly drawn to. And communication has been in my blood all my life anyway. So when it came to choosing subjects when I was 18, the decision was easy: linguistics, psychology, German & English language literature.
The world is being shaken up with some momentous changes coming. How do you see the future, the role of women, and is it bright?
Cleary, we’re entering Feminess – an age where truly feminine patterns will be seen as the way to a re-definition of success and happiness. Everywhere: from collaboration, communication and doing business. It’s bright but not necessarily easy. The male way of doing things has more role models than the female one, and we still lack 2000 year ruling & leading experience. So simply no better time to be a woman and set the pace.
More about Katja Schleicher/ Speaking & Moderation: https://www.katjaschleicher.com/