Every time you have something important to talk about in your business, you should be telling your audience a story. People forget statistics and names and events, but they never forget stories. A story is the only way we can activate the parts of the brain that get listeners to relate to us, says Amanda Patterson.
Once we understand the power of stories and accept the need for them in our businesses, we need to learn how to tell them. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a plot.
What, exactly, is a plot?
A plot for a business story usually involves a brand (or a business or a person) and a competitor (or a problem of some kind). All stories need an inciting moment – a moment where something happens that requires the brand to act or to react. When this happens, the brand has to set a new goal. This new goal usually causes upheaval, involves planning and requires change. A story is born from the brand’s reactions to these events.
To make your business story exciting, you need to employ storytelling techniques.
In all good stories
- The brand has to achieve a goal or face negative consequences if it does not
- There is conflict between the brand and the competitor/problem
- A plot requires that a brand changes or learns something or improves
When your brand has a goal, it is able to drive a story. Until then you have an idea. A brand’s motivations and emotions engage your customers and move the story forward.
The seven points you need to write a story for your business
1. Begin with a bang. Start when something meaningful happens. Examples: Your brand needs to launch a product; a leader has resigned; you are facing a staffing or environmental crisis; or your brand wants to edge ahead of a competitor.
2. Wants, needs, setbacks. Two key elements in storytelling are motivation and conflict. Whichever story you are telling, you need to show the conflict the problem has produced and why your brand is motivated to move forward. Use dialogue. Use emotions. Use the senses.
3. Goals and challenges. Your brand has to want to achieve its goals and be prepared to overcome challenges. You should show (not tell) how your brand is coping, how it is finding solutions and what it plans to do.
4. Embrace the fear. What is your brand most at risk, or afraid, of losing? Customer Satisfaction? Customer Loyalty? Money? Status? Reputation? Use this fear in your story. Tell your readers that these things are important to your brand. Use them to create empathy with your readers.
5. Tell a story. Tell us what happened in a short series of scenes with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Tip: When you brainstorm, start your story with ‘Once upon a time…’ Use the story outline as the basis for your finished story.
6. And just when it couldn’t get any worse… All great (and small) stories need a Dark Night of the Soul. Try to create a moment when things look impossibly bleak for your brand.
7. The end. Then show us how your brand resolves it.
Amanda Patterson is the founder of Writer’s Write. She runs business and creative writing courses. For more: The Plain Language Programme.
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