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How to Master the Art of Business Storytelling

Photo of man on a mountaintop bathed in light, and the man is looking at a laptop, possibly working on an amazing story.
Take your audience on an adventure through your writing. (Photo: Michal Bednarek)

Have you heard of business storytelling?

Odds are you haven’t. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need it.

Storytelling is one of the earliest forms of communication humans have. Way before humans first developed writing (around 3400 B.C.), we were verbally telling stories to entertain, educate, persuade, and connect with one another.

So it’s no surprise that many of the things we consume every day are based on stories.

Although you may think of stories as something under just novelists’ or screenwriters’ purview, the reality is that stories are everywhere, even when we don’t notice them.

Think about what you say when you talk to your friends, the tweets you read, the videos you watch, or even the websites you visit. So many people, businesses, and organizations we interact with are trying to tell a story because stories are one of the most effective and universal ways we communicate.

This is why it’s so important to incorporate stories into your writing, even when it may not be obvious to do so. Storytelling can and should be used in business contexts, whether it’s training materials, commercials, sales presentations, or your company’s “About Us” page on your website.

Keep reading to learn more about why and how you should incorporate business storytelling into your business writing.

Photo of cave drawings showing antelope or similar animals.
Humans have been telling captivating stories for thousands of years—and writing stories since at least 3400 B.C. (Photo: rodro)

Why You Need to Use Business Storytelling

We’ve already mentioned that storytelling is effective and universal, but why is that? Here are three reasons why business storytelling works.

1. It Captures Attention

Since most people are exposed to stories from an early age, stories capture more attention than other forms of writing or communication.

Stories are naturally engaging and can hold someone’s attention much better than a list of facts or statistics ever could. Think of the way you remember a novel or movie more than a textbook.

This helps your business writing stay memorable, which is always a good thing, whether your audience is consumers or a board of directors.

2. It Helps People Feel Connected to Your Brand

One of the reasons stories are successful is because they incorporate human elements of emotion and relatable experiences.

This is especially important for businesses because it helps customers or clients feel connected to your brand on a personal level rather than just as a business transaction.

Think of a business that dryly describes its product versus a business that shares the trial-and-error process its founder went through to create the product. It’s likely that the second one will make a bigger impact.

People want to do business with brands they know, like, and trust, so by sharing stories, you can create that connection and build relationships with your audience.

3. It Makes Your Writing Easier to Understand

Because stories are often memorable and engaging and use relatable emotions, they are much easier to process for most people than a dry description or data set.

This is especially important when you’re trying to communicate complex business concepts that some people may find difficult to understand.

By using business storytelling and incorporating a narrative with relatable metaphors and emotions, you can make your writing more comprehensible, which will help your audience better engage with your material.

And if you want help with the clarity, relatability, and overall presentation of your writing, reach out to Super Copy Editors. Our comprehensive business proofreading services can help you with everything from style and flow to grammatical errors.

Close-up photo of a person's eye. You can see part of the face, and it's wrinkled. Fascinating facial textures.
Business storytelling attempts to connect with readers on an emotional level. (Photo: analogicus)

Tips to Strengthen Your Business Storytelling

Now that we know why business storytelling is important, how exactly do you start using it in your business writing? Here are five tips on just that.

1. Plan Your Story

Few great stories have been written without an outline or plan, and your business storytelling should be no different.

Before you even begin your first draft, take a second to ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I want to say?
  • What will the takeaway message be?
  • How do I want the reader to react to the story?

Then, use the answers to these questions to make a basic outline of how you will tell your story. It doesn’t have to be super specific—just something that will give you an idea about your story’s overall flow, tone, and structure.

2. Use Natural Language

A good story is believable and easy to understand, so write in a natural style. Don’t use complicated words when short, simple ones will do.

Some people mistakenly think using simpler words and sentences will make them look uneducated or unintelligent, but nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the best writers (such as Ernest Hemingway) are known for their elegant use of simple language, and some of the worst writers are known for their overly complicated sentences and word use.

This is because telling a good story isn’t about looking clever or smart, or satisfying the writer’s ego—it’s about connecting with the reader, which means it needs to be easy for the reader to understand and relate to.

This means avoiding complicated jargon, overly technical terms your audience may not know, and unnecessarily long or complex sentences. Not only will this make your story harder to follow, but it can also alienate readers and turn them off from your brand.

One easy way to check this is to read your story out loud. If it sounds natural, you’re in the clear.

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3. Incorporate a Human Element

One of the core things that separates business storytelling from other types of business writing is that it attempts to connect with readers on an emotional level.

A good novel or movie will use characters, dialogue, and scenes that are easy to connect to because they contain emotions, visuals, and other elements we can empathize with.

You can use business storytelling to do the same thing by incorporating a human element into your story. This might mean using metaphors or illustrations involving relatable characters, natural dialogue, or simply a few visuals—anything that can help people connect with your story more deeply.

4. Use Narrative Structure

Do you remember learning about rising action, conflict, falling action, and resolution in English class? This is called narrative structure, and every story should have it.

Try to include some point of tension, challenge, conflict, and resolution in your story. For example, if you’re writing about your company’s history, you might talk about how the company failed to secure funding at first but then was saved when the founders reached out to one last investor who believed in their vision.

If you’re simply making a presentation or report, you can use a similar structure to talk about how your marketing team figured out which campaign was most effective, or how your finance team finally figured out how to decrease spending on a notorious money sink.

It may sound superfluous, but using narrative structure to tell stories like this can do a lot to engage your audience and leave an indelible impression on them.

5. Get Inspiration From Common Story Types

Did you know there are only 37 possible stories in the entire world?

Although there is debate over exactly how many plotlines exist—and the source of this claim, in particular, comes from a 100-plus-year-old writing guide—the point still stands.

There are surprisingly few plotlines once we strip them down to their fundamentals, and most great stories use some of the best-known ones. Think of how many versions of the rags-to-riches or the coming-of-age tale you’ve seen.

If you feel stuck on how to structure your story, take a page from some of the more popular narratives.

For example, the hero’s journey—where the main character goes on an adventure, overcomes a challenge, and is transformed in the process—is highly applicable to many different situations. This can easily include your company’s origin story or the story of how a new hire should adapt to your company’s policies.

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Photo of someone's dirty shoes, as they kick back and just enjoy the sunlight, which is filtering in on the side of the photo in a strange red color. It's a relaxing scene that feels very real and authentic.
Telling a good story means making it easy for the reader to understand and relate to. (Photo: Sofia Guaico)

Get Help With Your Business Storytelling From Super Copy Editors

If you still aren’t sure how to incorporate business storytelling into your writing, Super Copy Editors can provide expert copy editing services to make sure your story is on point.

Our team of editors and proofreaders will work with you to streamline your narrative, eliminate jargon, and ensure everything flows smoothly. Get your quote today and learn more about how we can help improve your writing.

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Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I’m Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than 25 years of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes. At Super Copy Editors, we’re passionate about helping agencies, marketing teams, and education companies refine and polish their text to give them confidence and ensure success. Learn more here.

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