8 Steps of storytelling: A guide for delivering a pitch.

Learn how to captivate your audience’s attention in these 8-steps of storytelling.

Business Storytelling - motivating your listeners
How do you know a business story is great. Your listeners can't stop telling it.

Marketing is storytelling and creating trust, and in fact, everything a company does feeds into marketing. If you follow the steps of storytelling, marketing becomes easy.

We all love a well-crafted story. A make you feel good story. A tale that activates your brain to take action. Hence, business storytelling has become an excellent tool for leaders to achieve their goals during presentations and business meetings.

The challenges with storytelling

For me, as an introvert, I often struggle with storytelling. Keeping my listeners’ attention and motivating them to take action does not come easy. Creating suspense and trust is challenging until I learned the steps of storytelling. It changed the way I approach every business conversation.

Most of all, the fear of failing to convey a compelling message can sometimes overwhelm me. If you get it wrong, you stand the change to lose your interlocutors attention right in the beginning. Getting it back is nearly impossible.

So where do people get the steps of storytelling wrong?

  • The storyteller crafts the story around him or her self. They tend to be the centre of the narrative. 
  • The storyteller did not use the opportunity to build trust.
  • There’s nothing in the story worth sharing. The storyteller did not create any hype.
  • In many cases, the audience will forget the dialogue before the meeting is even over.
  • Last but not least, there’s nothing in the exchange of information that will change or influence the listener’s life.

These steps of storytelling can take you far.

That said, how amazing is it when we see how a great storyteller can capture the imagination of an audience and motivate them to take action. Most storytellers follow a few elementary and trusted steps of storytelling to move the audience.

The general perception is that introverts are more reflective and thoughtful. For this reason, listeners would find what they are saying compelling and are more likely to engage with the storyteller.

Leaders with the ability to motivate their followers do so by great storytelling and through building trust. Therefore, a few business storytelling principles can provide you with the same edge to move your audience.

Craft your steps of storytelling around the listener

Most of the time, the information is there, but you don’t convey it by following the easy steps of storytelling. Maybe are you telling the story from your point of view instead of addressing your listeners’ interest?

The trick of business storytelling is to put the listener in the centre of your storyline. Consequently, forcing yourself to build the story around their needs. Immediately, whatever you say will become even more appealing to the listener.

Many business leaders use these steps of storytelling. For instance, Steve Jobs used this technique when introducing new technologies, like his famous 2007 introduction of the iPhone. In the next video, Elon Musk is applying these same principles as well.

#1: Introduce the purpose of the talk

The first step of storytelling is to introduce your topic to your audience straight away. Make it catchy because you need to grab attention. You don’t have a second chance to make a good impression.

E.g., “Hi, I would like to tell you how you can benefit from attending a writers retreat.”

#2: Name the enemy (the PAIN)

Never start your story by talking about yourself. Addressing your audience’s needs is the most crucial part of the steps of storytelling. For example, talk about needs and challenges. Try to make their pain real. Paint an emotionally resonant picture of their struggle.

E.g., You’ve probably been a few times in the situation where you want to put words on a paper but can’t motivate yourself to pin them down. You heard about people earning an income writing blogs and books but has no idea where to start. You’ve got all this creativity in you but don’t know how to unlock it.”

#3: What can you bring to the table (the CLAIM)

State how you will address the pain. What will you bring to the table? Why is now a great time to make use of the product or solution?

E.g., “You can become a published writer in the next 24 months. Our retreat will provide you with the tools to write blogs that will enable you to generate a passive income. You will understand the process of publishing a book within two years. Also, you will meet interesting, like-minded people in an amazing setting that will support you through your writer’s block times.”

#4: What will the advantage be for the audience (the GAIN)

What will be the advantage be for the audience to take action? How will the attendees benefit? In this step of storytelling, you need to articulate the benefits to the listener.

E.g., “A writers retreat will immediately put you in a new state of mind. You will walk away with a bag of ideas and immediately be able to benefit from your writing skills.”

#5: Present evidence that this will work (the PROOF)

Is it possible to prove your statements with real numbers and facts? Name proof of your accomplishments.

E.g., “The writing and blogging techniques we are presenting are used worldwide by all accomplished writers. The group of attendees to our first writers’ retreat are all frequent bloggers now. Today, they are all motivated writers and regular bloggers.”

#6: The actual pitch (the SOLUTION)

Provide hardcore detail about your solution. List the main features of your product and solution. Note how far down your storyline you start talking of your “what.”

E.g., “The writers’ retreat is a seven-day workshop in an idyllic setting. We will have at least two formal sessions per day to guide you step-by-step through the writing process. Most important of all, you will have lots of free time to practice your writing skills or get inspiration from the environment.” 

#7: Why working with me (the DIFFERENCE)

How is your solution different from all the others out there? Tell your audience what makes you unique.

E.g., “This writer’s retreat is presented by two accomplished writers, an award-winning blogger, and a published writer. You will get personal assistance to guide you on your new writing career in a breathtaking environment. Equally important, you will receive a gourmet dinner every evening.”

#8: Next Steps

How can the listener take action? What are the recommended next steps? Telephone numbers, email, or application form?

E.g., “If you would like to join our next writers’ retreat, feel free to drop me an email.”

Bottom line: The steps of storytelling is about understanding your listener’s problems and challenges. It is about showing empathy as well as the light at the end of the tunnel. But even more important, it is about building trust. Only showing up and start talking don’t capture the imagination. 

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