Business stories: why they’re important and how to write


19-04-2021
'Stories matter' written on old style typewriter

Guest blog by Chris Dunn

If you’re in business, you’re also in the business of writing.

What’s more, the style of writing you have to get right is the one that most of us struggle with, namely writing business stories.

You’re probably at the point of baling out of this article.

After all, what’s storytelling got to do with business?

But wait. Consider the following:

They have one thing in common. They’re all business stories.

And it’s critical that you get them right.

That’s because business stories bring to life what you do differently and better than anyone else.

Now, before I go on, I’ve a confession to make. I’m not a good writer and I’ve been finding it hard to tell my own business stories.

That’s why recently I turned to three books on business stories to help me get better. I think they can help you too. But more on this later.

What is business storytelling?

Business storytelling is expressed through the content that you produce for internal consumption or external consumption.

Internal storytelling examples might: be the townhall message that your CEO posts on your intranet site. Or the presentation that your CMO gives on an upcoming product launch. Not forgetting of course the update that you provide at your quarterly business review and your own team briefings.

External business stories could include the COVID business continuity letter that your Service Director sends directly to customers. Or the recruitment campaign that your HR Team runs on LinkedIn. Plus the website blog article that showcases your latest thought-leadership. And the ad campaign that accompanies your upcoming product launch.

Regardless of the type of content or the medium in which it is distributed, one thing is crystal clear:

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How do you write good business stories?

Firstly, you have to make a mental mindset shift. This takes you away from your comfort zone of the “informational” to the uncomfortable area of the “emotional”.

It’s uncomfortable because in business, we are taught to lead with logic. To be “data-rational”. And to “know our numbers”.

Bringing in emotion and telling stories seems childish. In fact. writing stories is something most of us discarded long before we left school. Even though, of course, the practice of telling stories never leaves us. Even as adults.

So, we spend hours writing data-rich PowerPoint presentations or detailed case-studies for our business colleagues and customers. Only to discover that those are wasted hours because our carefully crafted work ends up boring rather than inspiring.

With the inevitable consequence that our internal audiences switch off. And our external audiences stop reading or scroll on without even engaging.

So, it’s clear.

The informational is one-dimensional. It’s flat. It’s boring. It’s uninspiring.

Deep down I know this. Probably, you know it too.

But you possibly don’t want to admit it. So, I’ll say it instead. Over many years, I’ve been boring colleagues and customers alike with my simply uninspiring business stories.

So, if you’re anything like me and you’ve have been communicating this way for decades, you’ve no choice but to change your communication style.

You have to learn to weave the “emotional” into the “informational”. And the way to do this is by telling authentic business stories that connect on a human level.

The 4Cs of writing good business stories

Your business stories are obviously unique to you.

Which means that there’s no one magic formula for telling your business stories well.

You may find however that the 4Cs of copywriting help you.

As you craft your post, presentation or email. Ask yourself these questions.

  • Am I clear with my messages?
  • Am I concise with the points I’m making?
  • Am I compelling in the story that I’m telling?
  • Am I credible with what I’m saying and can I back it up with proof?

As Ann Handley author of Everybody Writes notes:

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In summary – business stories matter

Like it or loathe it, we’re all writers now. So, it makes sense to get better at it.

Particularly, when we instinctively understand the power of storytelling. And especially now that we know that it truly adds value to our business.

I hope this article and the 3 books I recommend will help you as you write your business stories in the future.

For those sceptics that still believe that information and data beat storytelling, I leave you with this quote from Steve Jobs from 1994 when he was CEO of Pixar.

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Read about the 3 books that will help you to write better business stories...

To read more information, click here.

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