Business Economy

A digest for business storytelling

Chandu Nair | Updated on October 10, 2021

'What’s Your Story? The Essential Business – Storytelling Handbook' emphasises that technology or new tools or platforms can’t make up for a story badly told

Three women communications professionals collaborate to put together an easy to read and digest handbook for business storytelling. It certainly helped that they worked together in Bloomberg News in Europe, have experience in different cities across the world and backgrounds in journalism, corporate communications and teaching. When I first glanced through it, I thought it might just be a simplistic 101 Primer or Dummies variant; to my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a practitioner’s guide dotted with several real-life examples and scenarios.

The authors give you a sense of the challenge you face by giving you numbers of the noise right on page xvi – “The world sends more than 300 billion emails each day. It reads 500 million tweets a day. There are 1.7 billion websites and 600 million blogs. Five hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.”

In these days when everything is being amplified like never before, when it is difficult to cut through the clutter and make sense of things around, when it is a challenge to make yourself heard and be different, this book gives you a sense of what it is to be a compelling storyteller and get your voice out there. It also tells you that technology or new tools or platforms or channels can’t make up for a story badly told.

The book is simply written and is jargon free. It is divided into 3 key parts:,

- Storytelling elements

- Storytelling channels

- Putting it all together

It is then sub-divided into chapters under each part. For example, Storytelling Elements has Your Message (key elements of your story), Killer Headlines (grabbing attention), Story Alchemy (writing a good lead to keep the attention), Seeing is Believing (importance of visuals), Using numbers (how credible statistics helps) and so on.

Communicating at an emotional level

The authors highlight the importance of the human ability to communicate at an emotional level. They stress this aspect – that people love stories about people. This is where our own unique storytelling skills can come into play in the most telling manner. This is something that AI powered machines, today’s emerging writers will find tough to replicate! As the Covid pandemic has shown, it is essential to connect in different ways to the audiences that matter to you, be they current or prospective customers, employees, vendors, partners or members of the public.

That doesn’t mean they don’t get into the technicalities and tools of what it means to make, tell, deliver, or amplify a good story. Which social media channels to use and how? Is sponsoring content worth it or paying for advertorials? What about influencer marketing? When should audio and video be your choice? How do you craft your organisation’s story into a credible yet appealing report? How do you establish thought leadership or project key people as experts?

World full of diversity

The authors are experienced hands-on pros. Little surprise then that the book is peppered with examples from different spheres – headlines, crisis communication failures, social media campaigns, and more. For example, in Chapter 1 of Part 1, they discuss various mission statements and candidly point what worked or just failed, what was or wasn’t believable. Likewise, how a good headline generally uses the active voice or simple words or gives the right context. And, no prizes for guessing – negative headlines get more clicks than positive ones!

In a world full of diversity, what with myriad cultural contexts and customs, is it possible to have one book that promises to be relevant everywhere? The authors believe that there are certain universal storytelling practices. The core elements continue to be understanding your audience well and getting your message clear while staying true to your mission.

While this book may most likely be useful for communications and media professionals, it would certainly benefit those who need to up their storytelling abilities such as entrepreneurs, corporate executives and others who want to be better communicators. Like it or not, we are always telling a story every time we send an email, draft a proposal, or craft a presentation. This book can be a suitable aid in the journey of becoming a better communicator.

What’s Your Story? The Essential Business – Storytelling Handbook

By Adri Bruckner, Anjana Menon, Marybeth Sandell 

Published by Penguin Portfolio

pages 284, Rs 599/- 

Check out the book on Amazon

(Chandu Nair, an alumnus of IIMA, is an Entrepreneur-Advisor and an angel investor)

Published on October 10, 2021

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