August 19, 2017

A bear’s tale

3 steps to a great story

Facts tell, stories sell.

Craft an anecdote

Tell me a story How can you make the most of your best business stories? Image by Jessica Weiller

But it’s not enough just to have a great story. To make the most of your best business stories, you also need great storytelling.

Fortunately, great storytelling is as easy as 1-2-3.

Here’s how to turn facts that tell into stories that sell, in this rewrite of one of my favorite corporate stories, a piece about FedEx helping rescue a bear named Ben.

1. Problem

“If you’re advertising fire extinguishers,” wrote David Ogilvy, “open with the flames.”

So don’t start your story with a pat on your own back. (It gets in the way of the story, and unless you’re really flexible, it’s hard.) Instead, jump right into the most provocative details of the story at hand:

Ben, a grizzly-black bear, had spent six long years confined to a barren cage.

Deemed “Attraction No. 2,” Ben was deprived of even the most basic necessities. His world consisted of nothing more than a barren 12-foot-by-22-foot concrete floor and a chain-link fence with an old bowling ball and some moldy stumps of wood. His “caretakers” dumped dry dog food — what passed for his meals — onto the same concrete floor where he urinated and defecated.

Ben spent his waking hours pacing, the result of profound deprivation and a sign of chronic distress.

2. Solution

I know, I know. This is the part you care about most: the part where your organization helped solve the problem. Your readers, however, are more interested in your subject. So make this the quickest part of the piece:

After a long battle with the zoo owner, several rescue organizations won the right to move Ben to a lush animal sanctuary in Northern California. FedEx volunteered to fly Ben across the country for free. A team of 42 folks made sure Ben got all of the comforts he needed as he journeyed aboard “Bear Force One” nearly 3,000 miles to his new home.

3. Results

Paint a picture of how great Ben’s life is now:

When Ben explored his vast new habitat for the first time, it was likely the first time he had ever felt grass beneath his paws. He pawed at the ground and smelled the grass. Within minutes, he was bathing and splashing in his own pool, ridding his body of grime for the first time in years. That night, he slept soundly on a comfortable bed of fresh hay and natural foliage.

How can you craft a story to make your messages more engaging?

  • Master the Art of the Storyteller

    Storytelling is “the most powerful form of human communication,” according to Peg Neuhauser, author of Corporate Legends and Lore.

    Indeed, stories can help you get attention, boost credibility, make your messages more memorable — even communicate better.

    At New York creative writing workshopMaster the Art of the Storyteller — a two-day creative writing master class on Sept. 25-26 in New York — you’ll learn to engage readers’ hearts and minds through storytelling. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • Find the aha! moment that’s the gateway to every anecdote.
    • Elicit juicy stories with the key question to ask during an interview.
    • Organize your material into a powerful story in just three steps with our simple storytelling template.
    • Start an anecdote with a bang — instead of a whimper.
    • Find anecdotes in the making with “WBHA”.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Master the Art of Storytelling Workshop in New York.


    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Make Your Copy More Creative workshop? Contact Ann directly.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


%d bloggers like this: