Getting the focused-attention of prospective clients is a precious opportunity.
What little time they do have away from getting things done in their day job is heavily in demand, as they are pursued frequently and hard by other would-be advisers.
This means that when we do have their ear – for instance, on a business group or networking call – we need to do all we can to be remembered.
Sometimes though, despite our best endeavours, our prospects remain elusive and our efforts are seemingly forgotten.
Storytelling could provide the answer.
Storytelling and the sweet spot
Telling a story allows us to find the sweet spot between:
- The high-energy but largely structureless ‘scattergun’ approach which can sometimes take hold when we’re thrust under the performing lights, and
- ‘Playing it safe’ – using a well-trodden business presentation format that we’re tempted to return to time and again, for fear of standing out for all the wrong reasons
By using a story’s natural structure to take the listeners on an emotional journey, you will not only grab people’s attention there and then, you will also connect with them in such a way that you and your story will be remembered long after the event is over.
And if it’s constructed in the right way, a storytelling approach can work whether you’re talking about your clients, your firm, your colleagues, yourself, or a product or service.
Story sections and steps
To see how a story can be constructed, let’s take the example of a story of Recovery.
The key feature of a Recovery-type story is that the main character experiences a loss of control over time and needs help to regain it.
We’re going to construct this story using seven steps structured across three sections, as follows:
- Introduction and background (Steps 1, 2 & 3)
- Main body (Steps 4, 5 & 6)
- Wrap-up (Step 7)
We’ll start by outlining below the story’s first three steps, which make up the ‘Introduction and background’ section.
We’ll then use a simple interactive tool to help you think about the sort of content that could go into these steps, along with guidance as to what the ‘Main body’ and ‘Wrap-up’ sections could look like.
Introduction and background
Step 1. The headlines: If your listeners only remember one thing from your entire story, this is what you want it to be. Your headlines should therefore be a one or two sentence takeaway that is novel and memorable. Simple metaphors or similes are very effective at doing this. Using them might feel a little corny at first, but they stick in the memory and they work.
Step 2. Get emotional and start the journey: Make a connection with your listeners by mentioning something about your story’s main character with which they can empathise on an emotional level. Having got their emotional buy-in, you can then use the rest of the story to take your listeners on an emotional journey.
Step 3. Introduce the hero: Set up your story’s hero. Personalise it (say who), and provide some detail that’s relevant to your listeners’ own situations (for example, around industry and experience).
Next, use our interactive tool below to further explore our example story’s structure and steps:
(The below tool is free. You do not need to register nor enter any details in order to use it.)