We all love a good story, don’t we? But when we’re writing for our business book, we often forget about them. A story can also be a case study or an example of someone you’ve helped, as well as a ‘story’ in the traditional sense of the word; it’s simply a tale that has a beginning, middle and end. There are lots of reasons why they’re important to include in your writing:
They add credibility. When we read about someone’s real life experience, we tend to trust it. And if your story about how you’ve helped one of your clients rings true, it has the effect of putting you on a bigger pedestal than if you had just described what you do, without giving any examples.
They create memorability. I was at a networking event not long ago, and one of the attendees got up to give their ten minute talk. Eyeing up his grey suit, I wasn’t expecting anything exciting from him (that makes me sound very shallow – sad but true!). But what followed blew my mind. He began by describing his difficult childhood as an immigrant living in a rough area, then detailed how he had eventually triumphed over these disadvantages by gaining multiple qualifications and becoming a highly respected member of his business community. Because I heard his story told in such inspirational detail, I’ve remembered it ever since. I know his ‘why’, his big reason for what he does. And I will never forget the charitable business he has created as a result of his experiences.
They add breathability. Stories give your writing life. Not only do they break up your descriptions by adding variety, but by taking your reader into a different world, they inject a shot of imagination into your book. Your reader will switch between fact and fiction as they read, which stimulates their brain to react in different ways.
They bring personality. If you’re wanting to convince your audience that you’re the right person to help them, a personal story reveals a lot more about you then a load of dry facts and figures. We like to get under the skin of the people we work with and a positive story about you paints a great – and memorable – picture.
So how do you generate stories?
There are various ways. You could:
- Look back through your testimonials – there are bound to be a few good case studies in there!
- Ask your clients (past and present) if you can write a case study about them, or use their experience with you as a story.
- Go through your contacts list and visualise each person – this will jog your memory for stories about people you know.
- Think about any help you’ve given to anyone (personal or professional) – is there an example or a story in there?
Where to use your stories
Now you’ve got some stories lined up, it’s time to think about where to use them.
One way is to use one detailed story which you tell all the way through your book or blog post. It could illustrate the transformation you offer by showing the journey of one character.
Another way is to pick and choose your examples to highlight the points you are making. You could even create a chart with your points on the left and a story per point on the right, just to keep you on track. Each time you use a story or example to illustrate your point, you’re making it that much more believable and memorable.
How to write your stories
This warrants a blog post in its own right (now there’s an idea!) but in brief, you want to think detail. The more little facts your story has, the more believable and colourful it will be. Remember how I mentioned the guy’s grey suit in my networking story at the beginning of this post, and how I’d assumed he was boring because of it? It’s those kind of details which help your stories and case studies to stick in your readers’ minds. Examples of details you could use are:
- Names – give actual names if you can.
- Place – where does your story happen?
- Mood – emotions make your story human.
- Background – what happened in the lead up to your story, what’s the context for it?
- Obstacles – what challenges did the characters in your story come up against, and how did they overcome them?
- Think ‘Cinderella’ – what’s the transformation that your main character went through, how did it happen and what was your role in it?
This should have given you lots of inspiration for your own stories, case studies and examples. Whether you’re writing a book, a blog post or the About page on your website, a good story will always enhance your writing.