What can poetry add to the business world?

"Most businesses are trying to find creative ways to say things, present things, whether it's on social media and we're talking about engagement — and what better way to engage people than to evoke emotion? And poetry is one way to do that." — Christoph Jenkins with Poet Life Podcast

This quote got me thinking about the relation between my two sides: poetry and business. By day, I'm a corporate marketer. On nights and weekends, I'm a page poet, spoken word poet, and slam poet though calling myself a slam poet is a bit of a stretch at this point. And I had some questions I wanted to get answered:

  • How can I marry these two seemingly opposite careers into something creative, productive, and impactful?

  • Is it actually realistic to pitch a poem in a business setting? Will they go for it?

  • What other potential is there with poetry in business?

Poetry is often misunderstood as solely for academia and dim-lit coffee shops where turtle-neck-wearing-poets spew uninterpretable lyric into the mic with a soft guitar playing in the background.

I'm definitely guilty of the turtle neck in a dim-lit coffee shop.

While both of those spaces are valid and serve their purpose, poetry can also be applied in an office setting.

So how can I bring poetry into the business world?

Poetry is a creative medium for storytelling, emotional intelligence (EQ), and getting a point across. All of which are appropriate and could be more effective than current methods for new hire onboarding, all-company meetings or conferences, retirement parties, social hours, whatever situation or event you can think of.

For example, a poem could approach company values or a mission statement in a way that relates to a specific, tangible experience. A line from a poem can stick in an employee's mind more than words on a flyer or painted on the wall.

When done well, a poem has a home in business too.

This concept can apply to many workplace events or industry conferences. Think about it.

How many retirement parties or a promotion celebrations do you actually remember what was said about the person of honor? How many company-wide meetings where goals or values are discussed, do you remember every detail? And how many conferences do you remember the message from a keynote or breakout session?

A poem is a creative, personable, and memorable way to help with all of that. This is not to say it's the only option for making presentations or events memorable. And it also is not to say a poem will help people remember every word. But it's a valid option that can evoke the emotion you want to inspire action.

When done well, a poem has a home in business too.

Is it realistic to pitch poetry in a business setting?

It's absolutely realistic! If you work for a company that's willing to listen to ideas, then go for it. Companies are always looking for ways to stay relevant, innovative, and ahead of the game. You might be exactly what they've been looking for. That next right thing.

What better way to stand out among competitors than with poetry?

What's the potential for combining poetry and business?

So you're ready to pitch poetry to your work. They're going to want specifics. How? What does it look and sound like? What's the potential?

Have a company town hall coming up? A new marketing campaign or sales pitch that needs fresh ideas? Is HR looking for interesting ways to welcome new hires? A poem can help!

Does your company list their cultural values anywhere? (Bonus points if there's extra adjectives and explanations for each value!) Use those in a poem that introduces new hires to the culture and a poem that refreshes the values for current employees.

Have a mission and vision statement? Use it.

Company goals? Use them.

Trying to hire a potentially relocating recruit? Write a poem about the city the office is in to highlight the perks of moving there.

The potential is limitless. And as a poet, you've got the creative mind to see the need your company has and fill it.

Now, go pitch that poetry!

Side note:

I wasn't yet halfway through listening to Season 2 Episode 9 of the Poet Life Podcast and already had numerous quotes worth committing to memory. This episode features Stephanie Denning discussing her article "Does Poetry Have A Place In Business" from Forbes.com and the overall potential for commercializing poetry. Highly recommend giving the episode a listen and her article a read!

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