The “C-Suite” of Storytelling: Six Steps to Writing that Compels
Written by Welcome on July 7, 2016
In mid-June, I gave my annual presentation on “writing your award entry” at AGC Colorado’s ACE Awards Workshop. It’s really a presentation on storytelling, of course – and rewarding to present every year. There are always new faces, new ideas, and new enthusiasm for the ACE Awards program and the excellent work it represents – in the field and in the office. After the talk, I invariably get requests for a recap from people who didn’t attend or (shock) didn’t recall absolutely everything I said. They want to improve their chances of winning, but storytelling isn’t a skill tied to a single awards program or an industry; it can benefit nearly everyone. Below is my proven “C-Suite of Storytelling,” which shares some easy tips for making your writing more compelling.
The C-Suite of Storytelling
Create – What is the major point of your story, and how will you deliver it? No matter how technical or well-known the topic is, be creative in the telling. Come at it from an unexpected angle or with a fresh voice. Look for human interest aspects. If your company renovated an aging recreation center, you have contributed to the health and well-being of a community. Tell it!
Construct – Your story needs a defined beginning, middle, and end. Develop an outline and write by it.
Color – Use descriptive language that paints a picture. Describe tons of steel or feet of pipe as “enough to fill a stadium” or “enough to circle a city block 20 times.” Weave in direct quotes – not just from team members, but also from clients and end users.
Clarify – Forget the thesaurus; use simple, powerful language and a clear storyline to keep the reader on track. Keep yourself on track with your outline.
Cut – Every fact, every example, every word must contribute, so choose wisely and cut the rest. Focus on nouns and action verbs instead of adjectives and adverbs. Don’t include marginal or tangential information just because “it’s interesting.” It’s probably not. Apply the “So what?” rule mercilessly (ask others to do the same) and plan to cut 50% of more of your first draft.
Connect – Read your story start to finish for cohesiveness and engagement. Then make sure the conclusion brings the reader back to the point you made in the beginning. A weak ending kills a strong story.
If you follow these steps, I promise your writing will improve. And just in case you’re not convinced this will impact your business, studies have shown that strong storytellers (and I don’t mean liars) enjoy greater success because they are perceived as more persuasive and competent. They are better able to bring people around to their point of view. . . which is precisely what business writing is meant to do!