The A-Z of business storytelling

We’re looking forward to the release of Andreas Loizou’s new book, The Story is Everything.  An in-depth guide to mastering creative communication for business, it’s sure to be a must-read for all.

On the run-up to his big day, we’ve been sharing Andreas’ A – Z of Business Storytelling on social media. For those of you that have followed Andreas’ amazing storytelling tips on social media, here’s the complete list. For those of you that haven’t, take a look at some of the amazing things Andreas has shared with us.

Order The Story is Everything on Amazon, available from 14 April 2022.

Don’t forget to check out our chat with Andreas about his book too!

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A is for Authenticity
Authenticity encourages you to show, not tell. You need to display your vulnerability. Give examples of your failures to make your story real for the audience.

B is for Beginning
Avoid the storyteller equivalent of clearing your throat in public. You do need to establish your credibility with the audience, but that’s very different to boring them with a long introduction. Dive in, and they will follow!

C is for Conflict
Conflict in not always the hero against the villain. Sometimes it can come from the hero fighting against something inside her or even against the whole world.

Conflict makes us root for the hero, which creates the emotional connection we need to read the next 400 pages of Stieg Larsson or watch series 5 of Better Call Saul.

D is for Dilemma
Conflict is great, but dilemma is ever better. A dilemma occurs when a character has to choose between two options, both of which come with a significant downside.

Dilemmas are great in business fiction because they force the hero into a corner. Their resourcefulness and convictions are tested – does a bond dealer sacrifice her own ethics to help a client in trouble, can a third way between the rock and the hard place be found?

E is for Experience.
Shared experiences are a great way to connect with the audience. All of us have been a scared child or a newbie in their first job. Whether this was in Oslo or Osaka, in 1943 or this week, the feelings will be the same.

Finding common ground with your listeners will always endear them to you.

F is for Facts.
Facts are up to 22 times more memorable when presented in the form of a story. Facts may convince some people some of the time, but stories are much more effective.

G is for Get them Gripped then let them Go.
A story that is solely comprised of low moments (failure of a product launch) will be depressing. But a story that is all high moments (a successful strategy is implemented without problem) will also be unbearable.

H is for Hardwired
The default setting of the human brain is story. An audience will prefer a nervous speaker who tells a tale to a super-confident presenter who rattles through one slide after another.

I is for Introduction
Henry Hill, main protagonist of Goodfellas, doesn’t mention his stakeholders, his lifestyle ambitions or his passion for the more informal parts of the hospitality industry.

Ditch the corporate and conventional in favour of story. Begin the story with the real you, not your LinkedIn profile.

J is for Journey
You kinda guessed this one, didn’t you?
Andreas Loizou tells you all about the Hero’s Journey in ‘The Story is Everything’.
Check out our chat with Andreas to find out more.

K is for Knowledge of Self
Once you realise that every single member of your audience is on their own personal journey, your storytelling changes.

Don’t waste your breath telling people how great you are. Instead, make the client your hero and tell them how your gym clothes or tax advice will help them achieve their goals

L is for Loss
We often frame what’s at stake in terms of what a listener can gain. Flip it round, and you can focus on what the audience or customer will lose if they’re not successful. John McClane in Die Hard has to foil the terrorists but his true motivation is to avoid his own death. He’s not Rambo or the Terminator, but a man who just wants to patch things up over Christmas with his estranged wide.

M is for Message
Too much business storytelling is about the company rather than the consumer – I don’t care about a company’s share price or that its logistics hub is based in Rotterdam. But I do want to know how spending my hard-earned money will make me feel better.

Your message needs to a simple and relevant. It’s got to be something one happy customer can tell to another.

N is for Noise
Human beings are always looking for shortcuts. A company that helps a consumer cut through noise with a sharply-constructed message will always do well.

Ronseal gives us a genius example in six words. Does What it Says on the Tin. The phrase positions their products as unintimidating, reliable and simple to use. The company acknowledges that not everyone painting a fence this weekend is an expert builder. But as heroes in our own story, we like the feeling of making a better home for us and our loved ones. We will choose products that help this happen.

O is for Original
You story makes people laugh, moves them to tears, makes them remember what it was like to be ambitious or inspired. On a mundane day in a beige world, you stand out by being exciting and different.

P is for Pictures.
Specific details create images in people’s minds. Vivid details give you credibility because they convince the audience you were there. Imagery fires up their imagination. Details give an ‘I was there’ veracity to your storytelling.

Q is for Quick
As a general rule of thumb, no-one will ever ask you to make your presentation longer or more complex. Be quick in all you do.

R is for Return
Stories often end with the hero returning home. They have been changed by their time in the unfamiliar world: the skills and attributes they learned there are much more apparent now they are back home.

S is for Senses
Good authors plant strong visuals in the audience’s brains. Great storytellers appeal to all the senses. Add Taste, Smell and Sounds to your story to show that the shark-hunter isn’t afraid to rile people to get their attention.

T is for Takeaway
Audiences love to summarise. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet in 1950s New York, Alien is Jaws in Space, Snakes on a Plane is, well, basically snakes on a plane.

Can you provide the audience with a single message, clear and unequivocal, that they could pass on to their friends?

U is for Universal Stories
You know that Pretty Woman is Cinderella, right? And that Frozen bears more than a passing resemblance to Beauty and the Beast?

Certain themes are common to stories. These include the thirst for power, the need for security and the quest for love. You know you’ve written a successful story when it can be pared back to a single emotional need.

V is for Villain
With all this talk about heroes, the villains have escaped our attention. Make your opponent worthy of your hero. You build a three-dimensional antagonist by explaining their motivation – are they desperate for market share, or righting a perceived wrong, or fighting for their own cause?

Without Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes is just a fading detective with a penchant for Class A’s.

V is also for Voice
Nailing down your storytelling voice takes time and effort, but it will make you a unique presenter. But voice – in writing, presenting, acting, speech-making – is a paradox.

To sound natural, you need to craft your voice. It’s like handwriting – no-one is born with it but over the years you develop your own style. It takes years of practise, hundreds of thousands of written words and a ton of rehearsals and presentations before you feel comfortable. So, cut yourself some slack if you haven’t got it perfect just yet. Your voice has to be constructed to make it sound real.

W is for Write every day
Sound advice. You’ve got to keep practising and challenging yourself, because no-one gets to learn it all.

X is for X
No, I’m not going to shoehorn in the word eXciting to this list. Just take a look back at my hints and tips over the last few weeks, and don’t forget to check out my blog with Margate Bookie.

Y is for You
It’s very important to avoid anything that make you feel phony or fake. Keep what works for you, ignore what doesn’t. If you find a suggestion doesn’t chime with you, ignore it. They’ll be another one along in a minute.

Z is for Zeds
Remember what your presentations used to be like? Lights, camera, painfully dull slide deck? Those days are over, so never again will you hear the yawns and snores of your late afternoon audience.

Order The Story is Everything on Amazon, available from 14 April 2022.

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