3 Things to Avoid when Telling an Effective Business Story

There are a number of common mistakes that people make when telling a business story. With a bit of awareness, we can avoid these traps and take our business storytelling to the next level.



Don’t use the ‘S’ word

When I ask my course participants about the first thing that comes to mind when they hear, “Let me tell you a story”, their response is usually. “here we go”, or, “this is going to take hours”. When we’re told we have a story is coming, we attach negative connotations to it. Instead, just launch into your story to make it more direct and powerful. Something about the words “I’ve got a story” takes away impact.


Don’t make them too long

In my last public seminar, one of the participants had the realisation that he had to decrease his business stories from an average of 33 minutes to 3 minutes per story. When we steal people’s time by making our stories too long, our audience becomes resentful and our stories are less likely to have the effect we are looking for. A short story is a good story; stories do not have to be long to be effective. Keep your business stories short and concise.


Don’t give a Hollywood production

In Storytelling for Leaders, we talk about the difference between “big S” and “small s” stories. A big S story is a story told in the style of movies like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings — an archetypical hero journey. Business Stories are simple and told in a normal voice without the drama. They outline a series of events and often report dialogue between two people to make a business point.

The difference between a good and a well-told story is often just the twist of a screwdriver. I.e., little things make a big difference. Well-told stories are a great way to influence, lead and inspire your customers and employees alike.

Having run three successful businesses, I find storytelling an invaluable tool. I consider it an absolute necessity in today's information flooded world. Contact me if you want to continue learning about Business Storytelling.

Tim Wise