Knowing what structure to use when communicating your company’s story can be a giant headache for busy entrepreneurs and company executives.
Whether it’s securing that big government department as a client, or an industry leader who you need to engage as a strategic partner—or even private investors who you need to raise capital from—the challenge of telling your company’s story can be met with an uneasy sense of foreboding,
Sometime it’s a genuine fear that you might get the message wrong, or worse, lose valuable clients or big partnership opportunities because you did nothing but confuse or muddle your audience.
It doesn’t have to be that painful.
Now being a busy entrepreneur or executive, it is likely that you don’t always have a lot of time to prepare a slick presentation, a blog article, a white paper, a brochure, copy for your website, etc., so here are three simple steps you can use to prepare virtually any presentation or document relatively quickly:
Basic elements to include in your story:
Give examples that are meaningful and relevant to your audience and remember one thing: story is sequential—“This one-time this happened, and then this happened, and therefore this happened, and so on.”
Add Salt & Pepper
Structure is great but using the principle of contrast is one of the best ways to add some flavour to your story as well.
You can build contrast into your story by taking your audience on a journey that introduces conflict (the problem) and then resolves that conflict (your solution).
If you can do this, then you’ll be streaks ahead of the pack who simply recall talking points and recite lists of information.
Audiences tend to forget rote lists of information and vague CEO-speak, but stories come naturally to us because that’s what we’ve done since the dawn of man: tell stories.
Take the following message as a quick example to illustrate the point further:
“Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centred innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.”
“…put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.”
The first message is incomprehensible to most, let alone memorable.
The second message—which is actually from a master communicator, John F. Kennedy—motivated a nation toward a specific goal that changed the world.
JFK (or his speechwriter) new all too well, that abstractions and CEO-speak are not memorable, nor do they motivate. Yet how many times do you see references in presentations and other corporate material to “maximizing shareholder value, company deliverables, blah, blah, blah”…....“making shareholders money at any expense” is more to the point but no CEO would ever say that.
The Need for Narrative
Story is an important way to engage your audience—typically customers, partners, or investors in the corporate world—and appeals to our human need for logic and structure in addition to emotion.
A 2003 a Harvard Business Review article on the power of story hits the nail on the head. It says storytelling is actually the key to effective leadership andcommunication in business:
“Forget Powerpoint and statistics, to involve people at the deepest level you need to tell stories.”
You should not fight your natural inclination to frame experiences into a story; instead, embrace this and tell the story of your company to your audience using the simple structure outlined above.
This will help you sign your dream clients, strategic partners, and/or investors.
We’re keen to hear some feedback from readers of this article, specifically: