If you want to stand out in your industry, you want to be considered a thought leader in your field. As such, you gain credibility and help influence others — two things that every CEO or executive can use to their advantage in their business. One way to elevate your thought leadership platform is to focus on the art of storytelling. Humans connect through stories, and by inviting people to join us on our journey, we build credibility, trust, and relationships. Mastering the art of storytelling can help you control your narrative, humanize your brand, and influence other people’s perception of you.
Here are five simple steps to crafting a killer story.
1. Answer important questions about your story
Crafting your story requires you to answer some deep and important questions in order to be effective. Before formulating your story, answer the following:
- What makes you/your story unique?
- How do you want people to perceive you?
- Why should people care about your story?
- What is your call to action? (aka what do you want people to do after hearing your story. E.g. follow you on social media, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.)
When you dig into these answers you’ll start to see the framework of a story emerge. You can use these elements to help you stand out and avoid being generic.
2. Write with the end goal in mind
Storytelling is a key part of content marketing. But it’s important to write and craft your story with the end goal in mind.
Think about how you want to be perceived, because this will affect the structure of your story as well as the tone. Consider your ultimate goal and write with that in mind. For example, you might want to be perceived as relatable or an authority figure in your field. You might want to boost brand awareness or increase sales. Knowing your goal can help shape your story and offer more clarity.
3. Connect with universal emotions
Have you ever been completely captivated by a story? Good storytelling can grab our attention and compel us to listen, leaving us riveted. One way to hook people into your story is to connect with universal emotions. Regardless of what your story is about, if you connect with universal emotions, it will be relatable and accessible. So as you craft your story, implement emotions such as fear, hope, disappointment, joy, grief, stress, loneliness, excitement, passion, and worry.
A story without emotions isn’t going to get people very interested. But when you craft your story with universal emotions, people can see themselves in parts of your story, which creates a connection between you and the reader/listener.
4. Make three-act structure your friend
The good news is that a formula for a good story already exists. Enter the three-act structure. In a typical three-act structure you have (1) setup, (2) confrontation, and (3) resolution.
The setup helps set the stage of the story while the confrontation is the rising action where conflict arises. The resolution is the climax of the story where everything comes together.
Another way to look at it:
- What is the beginning conflict? (the problem)
- What is the turning point? (where something changes)
- What is the breakthrough? (where the problem is solved)
This can help you map out the beginning, middle, and end of your story. As an example, you could tell a story about how your customers were not engaged (problem) and then you tried a new solution you hadn’t thought of (turning point) and your business began to boom (resolution).
Whatever your story is, whether it’s for your personal brand or business, use this structure. Having this specific story arc engages people in a way that is less salesly or stale and more authentic and captivating.
5. Practice sharing your story in different formats
Becoming a thought leader requires mastering your story. Having your story down isn’t just a “one and done” thing, though. You want to practice sharing your story in many different formats. There is the 2-minute elevator pitch, the long version, the abridged version, the social media version, and the written version.
You want to be able to share your story in a variety of situations. Practicing your story in different formats can help you perfect the delivery and help you remain consistent.
Storytelling is a powerful tool to help you connect with others. Think of all the movies, songs, and plays out in the world, which all revolve around story. It’s possible for you to leverage this tool to your advantage and craft your story to elevate your brand and credibility. Using these five steps and the tried-and-true formula, you can build a rock-solid story that grabs the attention it deserves.
Credits: Melanie Lockert, writer; Khusen Rustamov via Pixabay, image