Elementary Story Elements

Week 1 · Lesson 8 · 10 minutes


Let's dive into the mechanics of storytelling. Kevin takes us through the things that every single story needs to have.

So what even is a business story? For something to be a story, and specifically an effective story in a business context, it needs to have three particular elements: 

  1. Human Being(s) - As people, we make connections with other people. Business stories are more effective when they foster that connection, as opposed to, say, relying solely on statistics. You need to make your audience care about someone, whether it's you, them, or another person. 
  2. Emotional Change - This is the journey of a story, how someone goes from a negative emotional to a positive emotional place. That shift is what interests us in the characters of a story: how they deal with the events of the story and how those events affect their values and feelings. 
  3. A Controlling Idea - This is the point of a story. In business, stories should convey something, and you as the storyteller should know what that something is, and why you want to convey those messages to specific audiences. 

As we brainstorm ideas for stories, keep these in mind. You'll need to have someone in your story your audience connects with, an emotional change or journey that person goes through, and a controlling idea or message for why that person and that journey matters to your audience. 

 

Effective Story Example:

Look at the difference between the classic Oxfam letters that focus on statistics, versus the more modern approaches that focus on story. Kevin notes that the difference in results is massive.