How to Become a Better Story-Teller

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Despite studying A-Level English (English Language & Literature Combined, to be precise!), I don’t think I ever learnt how to write a story! 

So, when the opportunity came up to learn from Jon Card, business journalist and author of ‘How to Make Your Company Famous’, I jumped at the chance.

During Jon’s training session on ‘Unlock Story-Telling and Get Media Ready’, I learnt why entrepreneurs need to be story-tellers, and what makes an influential story. 

When we hear stories, we immediately feel more connected to the people recounting them. This became clear during a breakout group exercise, when we were asked to tell a short story to other participants. I shared the start-up story behind Thrive, and how I originally published a free business magazine, alongside my Thrive Meetups, before pivoting to become a business support organisation for female founders

We reflected on the fact that, as business owners, we are all communicating with people - despite whether we are operating as a Business to Business (B2B) or a Business to Consumer (B2C) company. We discussed the demise of the B2B and B2C models of operation, and the rise of the ‘B2P’ (Business to People) communication paradigm.

I learnt that, at its simplest, a story should have three parts. Whilst I am fully aware that stories are made up of a beginning, a middle, and an end, I was unfamiliar with the three-part story structure Jon advised us to follow, when sharing our start-up stories or inspiration behind a new innovation:

  1. Before: The section during which the story-teller sets the scene and talks about their experience of the “ordinary world”;
  2. During: The section where the story-teller talks about their experience of a trigger or a “eureka” moment, which in turn, acts as a catalyst for a transformation that then takes place;
  3. After: The final section when the story-teller reflects on the moral of the story.

Jon also shared with us ‘The Hero’s Journey’ - an extended structure of the above, comprising of nine key parts involving a “hero” (i.e. you, the entrepreneur), “villains”, and “mentors” etc. 

I recommend you read Jon’s book, ‘How to Make Your Company Famous’, if you would like to learn about how his story-telling structure can help you create a powerful narrative for your business - I don’t wish to infringe on his intellectual property here.

In the meantime, if you, like me, would like to become a better story-teller, I recommend the following tips when writing about your business:

  1. Reflect on your purpose - why do you do what you do, as a business? Identify how your work is creating impact and changing your industry or even the world.
  2. Write a succinct biography about yourself - one which gives you credibility and authority. Use this biography in your LinkedIn profile, and also when sending press releases to journalists.
  3. Read a variety of newspaper articles about entrepreneurs and their businesses. Reflect on what made those stories compelling;
  4. Practise (on your trusted peers) telling a concise version of the start-up story behind your business, i.e. why you originally started your business; 
  5. Next time you write a blog post, press release, or LinkedIn article, edit your text carefully. Check that you are using plain English and avoid unnecessary business jargon and acronyms;
  6. Collate a range of testimonials from your clients about your business. Study the language they use when they describe the impact your business has had on them. Mimic that language in your own copy and marketing materials.
  7. Finally, like any skill, practise! To improve your story-telling ability, continuously reflect on stories you read or listen to, and identify how you can mirror elements of those stories in your own.

If you would like some support to identify your purpose, or to gain feedback on your marketing and communication efforts, for example, join me and a small group of female founders and women in business at our next meeting of The Business Clarity Club™ - a confidential, accountability group designed to enable you to gain clarity, make progress in your business, and beat imposter syndrome (if that is something you suffer from). 

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