A good story is thought-provoking and holds our attention to the end, when ultimately a valuable message becomes clear. Isn’t that what we’re out to accomplish when we pitch a new business case to the decision makers in our company?
Then why not tell more stories at work? Harvard Business Review makes the case for imagining your next big project as a story, complete with a problem (your business need), a cast of characters, a compelling plot and a hopefully a happy ending.
You need a story/business proposal that appeals to different perspectives, and is compelling and convincing no matter who your audience is.
How do you accomplish that? It’s about connection. Think about the different ways people think, act and approach problems. Not only does this help you develop the story but it will ultimately shape your pitch it to decision makers as well.
To develop the story, leverage the talent within your ranks—as a manager, you have powerful people resources at your disposal. Use them!
- Your Social thinkers might cast the characters, identifying the stakeholders that will ultimately identify with the story and make it happen.
- Count on your Conceptual thinkers for ideas, storylines and broad vision for the project. They will identify alternative paths to success for your team to choose from.
- Structural minds will work ideas and characters into a detailed project plan (the story’s plot) with a clear path to success, and see it through to the end.
- The Analytical thinkers are there to perform cost/benefit and ROI analyses and arrive at an ending that works for the organization.
These four components align perfectly with the Harvard Business Review approach as well as with the way people actually think. However, like any good story, emotion, perspective, pacing and plot twists go into a good business proposal.
The behavior of a manager and the team can make or break a presentation.
- Knowing how you typically come across from an Expressiveness standpoint is critical to storytelling.
- Assertiveness should be varied based on where you are in the plot.
- Flexibility can run a full spectrum from those who tell a direct, straightforward story to those who change things up on the fly.
Awareness of behaviors also comes into play with your audience. It helps you know how assertive you should be in promoting your story, how expressive when telling it, and how flexible you may need to be when that decision maker offers an alternative ending.
Developing a business case in this way will give you a firm handle on the problem, the characters, the plot and the resolution.
Now, when it’s time to make the case, use your people, consider who is hearing your story and adopt your approach. What makes a good story to a CFO concerned with financial analysis may be a snoozer for a CEO focused on market expansion.
See more ways on how to maximize storytelling in the business world from our founder, Dr. Geil Browning, writing for Inc. Magazine!