Good storytelling isn’t about making stuff up; it’s about presenting a narrative in a way that piques interest, maintains suspense, and then provides resolution.
We remember good stories, learn from them, and very often re-tell them. Therefore, we should use the same approach in our business communications. Quite simply, why have flat, boring content when you can bring it to life in shapes and forms that engage your audience?
How to do it? Here are some principles of good storytelling:
Structure a narrative arc
A story that has a narrative arc is, put simply, one with a clear beginning, middle and end. Importantly though, something actually has to happen! As readers, we want action, adventure, excitement – challenges to overcome. And we want the story to end in a different place to where it began.
To tell a story in your business writing, your narrative arc should generally include a:
- Hook: Something that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be an anecdote, a statistic, an observation, something topical, or even something funny.
- Problem: What is the issue that you could help your readers solve? What is the impact for readers? Think about ways to phrase this to create emotional resonance.
- Solution: What is the solution to the problem? This is where you could include your sales messages; think about how to weave them into your story to create action, excitement and emotion.
- Resolution: What happens at the end of the story? Ideally, you want to leave your readers feeling positive about your company and your people with a clear idea of what to do next.
Show don’t tell
Often you can communicate more information – and in a more interesting, informative and effective way – by showing, not telling. Too many words on a page, particularly for business communications, can be a real turn off.
So instead of saying, “We have 50 employees across Australia”, include a whole company photograph so the reader can see the size of your team. Or perhaps survey them and provide the results in graphics, include quotes, or profile individuals in case studies. Make them a part of your story.
Include people in your storytelling; after all, what’s a story without any characters? The people in your story will help you establish emotional resonance. This will help you connect with your readers who may respond: “Yes, I have that problem,” “That could work for me,” “These people seem great.” By creating more interest and engagement with your company, further sales should result.