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The Three Points to Have a Story Worth Telling

New times sometimes call for new, (and sometimes not so new) approaches. In the never-ending pursuit to communicate effectively, managers and marketers alike are making “new” attempts at pressing their point by returning to the “old” form of classical storytelling.

At WordWrite, we think this is great and a timely reminder that in the professional communicator’s world, the story is always paramount. But this old, “new” approach also needs some structure. Embracing narrative storytelling in business communication does not mean the tide is high for “shoot from the hip” or “stream of consciousness” communication. Actually it means just the opposite, and if you desire to use storytelling, your story needs three critical elements to be effective.

First and foremost your story must be authentic — rooted in the purpose and competitive realities of your enterprise. Not only do I mean factually relevant but also a story that is mature, enlightening and utilitarian for audiences. This narrative element needs to be patterned more like a problem-solving docudrama or non-fiction work rather than a wishful fantasy or an exercise in organizational hyperbole. Bombast is the opposite of authenticity and it has limited use in storytelling communication.

Second, your authentic story must have context (a premise with a beginning, middle and end) and it must be told by fluent storytellers. Those communicating your story must be fluent in your authentic story and place it in relationship to other relevant “reality." In cases where an audience might become second-generation storytellers (such as staff training or early adopters who praise your product or service to others) the original storyteller must ensure that the audience can become fluent in your story quickly by hearing you tell it first.

Lastly, and most important, you must be able to reliably and frequently “read” audience response to your story. In the 21st century, this can happen through many effective tools that we'll be blogging about in this space. "Reading the audience" should include formal measurement of audience response. How to measure response should be part of your original storycrafting.

In the next few days, Paul Furiga and I will be elaborating on this concept when we post our whitepaper on this subject to the WordWrite web site and other outlets on the Internet. And we will continue to blog on this topic and many related issues on a frequent basis.

In the meantime, we are interested in your thoughts: How important is it to your business communications that you have an authentic story, well told by fluent storytellers, and that you know exactly how your audience is interpreting and acting on your story? Let us know by commenting below.

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