Ahhhh. That moment when a gripping page-turner of a report, memo or email swooshes into your inbox.
You know the type.
The one you can’t put down.
The bustling office behind you fades as the words gently caress your eyeballs, tug you in and swallow you whole. With every poetic paragraph and each beautiful bullet point, you slide deeper and deeper into the depth of that business report.
You missed your lunch break – you don’t care! Time warps until you reach the wild crescendo.
You know you’ll never be the same.
Has that happened to you lately?
Well, no, me neither. But don’t you wish it had?
You already know storytelling in business writing is powerful
We’ve known for centuries that storytelling is a powerful tool for us to build an emotional connection, share information, and persuade our audience to act.
Yet, the corporate world still bulges with beige, bland and fully forgettable content.
Too hard or just too risky?
Many people think storytelling is hard, or at best, something they need more time for.
Others are scared to take the risk and break the corporate mould.
As a parent of two primary school kids, let me tell you, storytelling is not that hard. It’s part of who we are as human beings.
Yet the bombardment of boring business content has made us forget how to tell a tantalising tale.
Let me give you a refresh
Are you prepared to take a risk and break free from the business beige? Do you want people to absorb your corporate content rather than skim it?
If you need a refresher on how to tell a compelling story in your business writing, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re writing a sales pitch, a newsletter, a proposal, a report or a presentation, incorporating storytelling can make your writing more compelling and memorable.
In this blog post, I share ten tips to help you tap into storytelling’s power and make your business writing sing.
1. Ditch the dry opening and start with a bang
Bear with me while I channel a regular, run-of-the-mill business report.
“This report aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current market landscape, while highlighting key strategic opportunities for growth and scalability. Through a thorough analysis of key performance indicators, as well as a robust evaluation of market trends and disruptive forces, the report endeavors to identify actionable insights for driving increased levels of operational efficiency and maximising value for stakeholders.”
Holy cow. Put me out of my misery. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Instead of a boring introduction like that, consider kicking off with a shocking statistic, an intriguing question or a powerful quote.
Put yourself into your reader’s shoes and find something they’ll find fascinating to grab their attention and make them want to read on. Speak directly to your reader.
Top tip: To do this well, you’ve got to know your audience first.
Same message, different intro:
“Are you struggling to grow your business in today’s ever-changing market? This report uncovers the hidden opportunities and provides clear action steps to help you increase your profits and future-proof your company. From identifying the key performance indicators that matter most to evaluating the disruptive forces that could impact your industry, this report is a must-read for any business looking to stay ahead of the game.”
2. Paint a picture with words
A.K.A ‘Show, don’t tell’. Remember this chestnut from school? It’s as true now as it was then.
Use vivid imagery to transport your reader to the world you’re describing.
You could say: “We have a new product line.”
Or you could bring it to life by saying something like: “We’ve launched a highly anticipated new range of products offering the features and benefits our customers have long been asking for.”
3. Create relatable characters
Introduce real people or fictional characters that your reader can connect with. Use them to illustrate your points and make your writing more relatable.
For example, can you add a client case study or an employee’s before and after experience?
4. Use real-life anecdotes
Anecdotes are short, real-life stories that can help to illustrate your points in a relatable and memorable way. Instead of writing about the success of a campaign, explain how it helped one person.
Instead of saying, “The new software will improve our customer service.”
You could introduce a customer, like Jane:
“Meet Jane, a small business owner who recently placed a large order from our company. Before our new software implementation, Jane had trouble tracking the status of her order and getting timely responses to his inquiries. With the new software, Jane can easily track the progress of her order and communicate with our customer service team through a user-friendly interface. As a result, she can plan more effectively and run her business more smoothly. Our new software is not just improving customer service, but also increasing efficiency and productivity for our customers.”
5. Use dialogue
Dialogue can bring your characters to life and make your writing more engaging. Use it sparingly, and make sure it’s relevant to your story.
For example, including dialogue recorded at a customer focus group could powerfully bring your content to life.
6. Introduce conflict
In storytelling, conflict drives the plot and keeps the audience engaged. In business writing, you can use conflict to highlight a problem that needs to be solved or a challenge that needs to be overcome.
For example, instead of writing about your company’s new service, write about the battle to get it ready and out to the market before your competitor.
7. Use a clear structure
A clear structure is essential to keep your audience engaged. Use a clear introduction, body and conclusion to guide your reader through your story.
A clear structure creates momentum, making the content more engaging and drawing the reader in.
A predictable and structured flow is also more memorable. The reader can remember the main points and recall the content more easily.
8. Use humour
A splash of wit and an occasional bit of cheek can lighten the mood and make your writing more engaging and readable.
But a word to the wise, don’t overdo it. And be mindful that humour can easily be misinterpreted.
This comes back to knowing your brand, your audience and reading the room. An email to customers about a data breach will never be the time to show off your comedic flair.
9. Once more, with feeling
Emotions make stories relatable and memorable, so don’t be afraid to tap into them in your business writing when appropriate.
Remember, you’re always writing for humans. And humans get all the feels.
10. End with a strong closing
Leave a lasting impression on your reader by using a solid closing that summarises your main points and leaves your reader with something to think about.
Make it clear what you want them to do next. Or, as those marketing types would say, include a strong call to action.
What do you think?
Storytelling is a powerful tool for engaging and persuading audiences, and it can be just as effective in business writing as it is in creative writing.
So the next time you’re writing a sales pitch, a company newsletter, or a proposal, incorporate elements of storytelling and help me win the battle against boring business blah.
Do you have any tips to add?
I’d love to hear ‘em.