7 Clues to Business Narrative

7 Clues to Business Narrative

So you want to start using storytelling to inspire your base and your team. Now what? How do you get started? Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story: A guide to crafting business narratives that captivate, convince, and inspire, suggests seven strategies for crafting a good story.


1. Provide context.

Clue in your audience as to the conditions surrounding your story. If a major industry change sparked a new idea, don’t forget to tell your members about that change. Context is a lens through which people will view your tale.


2. Use figures of speech.

Metaphors and analogies help illustrate your story because people are so familiar with them. For example, you might mention the tradeshow floor was buzzing like a beehive. That’s more interesting and engaging than simply stating that it was busy.


3. Add emotion.

Smith suggests appealing to emotion, and we couldn’t agree more. The emotional center of the brain is responsible for 90% of our decision making. A good marketer simply can’t ignore emotions.


4. Be concrete.

Add specific details to your stories and skip the corporate jargon. A conversational tone with real world details—not abstractions—will forge a connection with your audience.


5. Include a surprise.

Smith notes recent research that suggests a surprise could make your story more memorable. Surprises trigger the release of adrenaline in the brain, which heightens memory formation.


6. Use a narrative style appropriate for business.

Keep it professional and concise. Smith suggests a story that’s 3 to 5 minutes long.


7. Be interactive.

The only thing better than a story that’s so good your audience feels like they’re a part of it is a story your audience is actually a part of. (Remember Steve Jobs’ prank call?) Involve your audience in whole or in part for an even greater impact.

Storytelling in business is a little different than the stories you might tell your kids at bedtime, but with a little effort, they’re every bit as interesting, engaging, and inspiring.

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