When we were young, if we were asked to write a story, we would all write in a similar way, “once upon a time a good guy went on adventure and encountered a bad guy, the good guy triumphs over bad guy and we live happily ever after”.

At a later age, we are taught how to write up experiments and reports. These use a slightly different formula, but they still come back to the same thing of having a start, a middle and an end. We have been programmed from an early age to follow a formula to get the best result out of what we’re trying to say.

But what does once upon a time have to do with business?

Storytelling is at the heart of good communications; it prompts customers to interact with your company and to take action, whether that be to find out more about you, tell others about you or to purchase something you offer.

At Hey Me, we believe that each of our unique clients should have their individual stories heard in a way that is engaging and accessible to their audiences.

There’s so much noise in the world and so many people shouting that it’s tough to make your voice stand out. By introducing a clear narrative, businesses can ensure that what they are communicating is both interesting and engaging, while making sure that both their clients and staff fully understand their business messages.

In their book, ‘Storytelling: branding in practice 1.’, Fog, Budtz, et al., have outlined four key elements that are crucial to get right when telling a story:

  1. The Message.
  2. The Conflict.
  3. Characters.
  4. The Plot.

How can you use these elements to enhance business communications?

1.The message
To gain interest, and investment, from your audience it’s crucial to have a message that is clear, concise, and interesting. Your message should be clean and simple, cutting to the heart of your communications aim. Avoid using complicated language or technical jargon, opting instead for plain English. Keep messages straightforward to increase understanding.

2.The conflict
Think what is the issue, or conflict, that you are aiming to solve via this communication? For example, are you marketing a new product that can resolve a technical issue? Are you communicating a new policy change to staff members? Or, are you educating your audience on an issue that exists and showcasing your knowledge and expertise?

3.The characters
Who is the hero of this communication? In storytelling, the hero could be the reader, the narrator, or another character in the story. In business communications, this could be a current or potential customer, a staff member, or it could be the business and their product.

Be clear on who the focus of your communications should be. Are you looking to sell a product or service, or are you looking to provide information on a change?

4.The plot
Make sure your communication is well structured to connect with your audience. Telling your story with real-life anecdotes, and using your audiences own language can bring your ideas to life. The most powerful messages are authentic, honest, and connect with your audience.

You may remember at school being reminded to include a beginning, middle, and an end in your stories. This sense of a clear structure is just as important in communications. In each communication, it’s important to consider how your story is progressing, what has come before, and what will come next?

We recommend that you use the 5Ws to support your plot. These are: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. This technique can help to frame your story by creating flow to ensure your message is heard loud and clear.

If you would like to discuss telling your story further, please get in touch with the team at Hey Me. Our team can support you with developing, writing, and delivering your story in an influential and effective way.


1. Fog K., Budtz C., Munhc P., Blanchette S. (2005) The Four Elements of Storytelling. In: Storytelling. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi-org.ezproxy.bangor.ac.uk/10.1007/3-540-27116-3_2

 

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Jen Derrick

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