Business Storytelling

This resource was prepared by the Business Communications Lab at the Sam M. Walton College of Business
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Narratives are particularly effective forms of business communication, because they help listeners retain information, stay engaged, and practically apply difficult concepts to their work environment. Business storytelling is a valuable way to get people interested in your organization’s products/services/ideas and if delivered correctly, can drive the audience into action.

Why do stories matter?

Humans are social creatures by nature and we relate to one another by sharing in each other’s experiences. Storytelling helps you connect with the audience. The ability to make this connection can be the difference between effective and ineffective communication.

How do I tell a story?

Think of a story that has had an impact on you. What were the characteristics of that story? Most likely, you see something of yourself in the story. You relate to the story. Crafting an appropriate story depends on the Rhetorical Situation. Who is the audience and what do they care about? How can you frame your message in a way that will resonate with the audience? To begin crafting a business narrative, consider the following:

  • What does the audience value?
  • What beliefs or cultural norms should you be aware of?
  • How can you engage with the company culture?
  • What is the demographic? How can you use the demographics to understand the brand associations and expectations?
  • What are the relationships in the room?

Connect to diverse audiences through relatable experiences. Creating a parallel between the content of the message and the context of the audience will keep the audience engaged in your message.

All stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning of your message should draw the audience in. Try using an attention getter to get the audience’s attention.

The middle is where the “meat” of the story exists. Draw on connections between your message and the rhetorical situation.

Contrary to popular belief, the ending is not where you simply reiterate the main points. The conclusion is where you make the points memorable, offer a solution, or call for action. The conclusion is where you put in the last word. What do you want to leave the audience thinking about?

Want more information about how businesses use storytelling?

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