What’s your story? Telling one is good for business

Telling stories.  Turns out telling stories is not just for children.  It’s good for those hunting for a job and it’s good for those starting a new company. According to this New York Times article, telling stories–rather than facts–is what will get you the job or resonate with people who you ask for money.  Telling a story is a way to show that you are “compelling, unforgettable, funny and smart. Magnetic, even.”  Telling a story is a way to show the world what makes you so special. 

So, you need to have a good story ready at hand when you go to pitch yourself to investors or try to get a bank loan.  And you need to be able to tell it well.  It’s a skill that can be learned, according to the authors of this article.  Consultants are now offering classes in story-telling and researchers have honed in on the hallmarks of the best stories that resonate with people.  A compelling story should have something close to this formula–which if you studied literature or writing might look familiar to you: Act 1, scene setting; Act 2, rising action; Act 3, the turning point; Act 4, the falling action; and Act 5, the denouement or release.   There can be fewer stages or more stages, but in general the best stories all follow this pattern and, where business is concerned, seem to result in sales. To tell a good story, we need to just tell it, not analyze it, explain it or judge it first, according to one expert.  It’s when we over-think things that they fall flat on the listener.  So, how to think about your own business story? “It’s about balancing your personal story — incorporating your values, tying it together with a vision of the future, and telling how investors can get involved and also benefit themselves.”

Finally, here is a short list of tips:

  • Know who your audience is
  • Have a beginning, middle and end. (That sounds obvious, but people often forget that.)
  • Use concrete details and personal experience
  • Don’t self-censor.
  • Don’t try to memorize a story so it sounds rehearsed. It’s not about perfection. It’s about connecting. 

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