How to tell a good story when you talk about yourself

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Apple, content creation, marketing, websites
Tags: , ,
Festival Story Telling

Are you telling a good story on your About Us page?

Phil Roybal (not pictured here) was a great storyteller in the early days of Apple. I remember him taking the stage, or the podium, microphone in hand (this was before the days of headsets with the little wire mic now favored by speakers, for good reason), and spinning the story of how Apple came into being, succeeded, ran into some trouble, overcame it, and made a success.  He liked to walk around while he was doing his thing.  But unlike some speakers he got away with it because you paid attention to what he was saying, not doing. Didn’t make much difference who his audience was — employees, dealers, customers, schoolkids, or the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce.  He went with the same basic shtick and it enthralled the audience.  When he finished, the crowd knew something it hadn’t known and felt good about the fact that Apple existed.  Phil also left behind a favorable impression of Apple products, which was the whole purpose. “Everybody loves a good story,” he would say.  Indeed.

I was reminded of this earlier today when I saw a blog post by author Brian Tracy, courtesy of HubSpot, sharing tips on how to make your “About Us” page more meaningful.  How to do better business storytelling.  Turns out that good business storytelling is whole lot like good storytelling of any kind.  Phil knew this and his audiences appreciated it.

With apologies to Tracy, here is my take on the best practices I’ve seen along the way since my, and Phil’s, Apple days:

1.  Listeners (or readers) want to know the story from the beginning.  What happened?  Who were the characters?  What were they trying to do or solve and what were they up against in their mission?

2.  Conflict creates the drama that creates the interest that keeps people from falling asleep.  Did your founders flounder for a while?  What were the obstacles they overcame?  How?  Did they succeed against all odds?

3.  Readers and listeners want resolution.  Not that they want everything brought to a tidy conclusion, but they want a sense for where you took them and how it speaks back to the beginning.  Think of being atop a mountain and looking back down where your started. If your story can delight them by arriving at an unpredictable juncture in the final chapter, so much the better.

Like all good yarns: a beginning, a middle and and end.  In other words, founder(s) who embarked on a journey on which they overcame obstacles and achieved something worthy of acclaim.  And pride of belonging. A story worth telling and hearing.

Every company, like every employee in it, has a story.  What’s yours?  What is it about your business story–About the Company– that is worth reading or hearing?  How can you make it more story-like?

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