Remember, stories aren’t just stories. They’re truth and promise and relationships established. They’re vital to business. There’s more truth in stories than in all the statistics ever published.
Geoffrey James posted How to Tell a Great Story on Inc.com last month, quoting Mike Bosworth of Solution Selling, and Ben Zoldan, one of his top trainers. So this is how to tell a memorable business anecdote:
1. “Decide on the takeaway first.” There’s a business goal. Yes you want to make conversation, but also make a business point. If you’re selling shoes, tell a story about a shoe disaster, or a shoe rescue.
2. “Pick the ending ahead of time.” Get the ending that supports the takeaway.
3. “Begin with who, where, when, and a hint of direction.” He adds:
Every great story–and indeed, every great movie, novel, or TV show–starts with a person (who is going to do something), a place (where things are going to happen), a time (so people can relate “then” to “now”), and just a hint of direction, indicating where the anecdote is headed.
4. “Intensify human interest by adding context.” Details, done right, make it a story. Try to put your people there, caring about the people and the situation.
5. “Describe the goals and the obstacles.” They call that plot. What was the problem, and how was it solved.
6. “Describe the decision that made achievement possible.”
It’s important not to confuse the decision (or turning point) with the ending of the story. The turning point is not “what happened”–it’s the decision that caused what happened to happen.
7. “Provide the ending and highlight the takeaway.” Don’t assume your listener figured it out. Make sure to say it, out loud. Tell everybody what happened and why it’s important.
Nice post, good recommendations; thanks Geoff, Mike, and Ben.