May 31, 2019

What’s Your Story Strategy? Business Storytelling for Leaders, Sales and Marketing

By Doug Stevenson, CSP

©2019 All Rights Reserved

When you go shopping at a shopping center or mall, there are a couple of large brand name stores that are called Anchors. These stores are strategically positioned at prime locations in the mall or shopping center. Positioned between these anchors are the smaller stores and restaurants. The anchor stores spend the most on advertising and attract the crowds.

From early on in my speaking career, I designed my speeches around two very popular anchor stories. One was my Streaking Story about going streaking as part of a acting class / theater exercise and getting arrested naked. The other was my Airport Story about deciding to travel to an after-dinner keynote speech on the same day as the speech, and almost being late to deliver my keynote. These were the anchor stories of my speeches.

Story Strategy One: Using Anchor Stories (more…)

May 29, 2019

Inspirational Storytelling – Storytelling in Business Skills

As a executive and leader, one of your roles is that of inspirational speaker. You are the one person that people look to to make sense of the changes taking place in your organization. You’re the tip of the spear. Was there a course on inspirational speaking at your college or university? How about in your MBA program? Did they teach you how to make an emotional connection with your employees and lift their spirits?

The most powerful vehicle you have to inspire people is a great story. Here are some tips and techniques to help you be more persuasive and inspirational in your next big presentation.

Mistakes, Failures and Small Disasters

Finding stories to tell that are relevant and engaging is simple. Stories revolve around moments: big moments, small moments, and meaningful moments. I call the M&M’s.

Garrison Keillor, the host of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR radio, says that “your best stories are about mistakes, failures and small disasters”. In the context of my Nine Steps of Story Structure, I call these “obstacles”. They can be big obstacles, like a life-threatening illness or a tragic event; or small obstacles, like a misunderstanding or getting stuck for two hours in traffic on the way to an important meeting.

Think about your life over the last six months. Did any challenges or obstacles cross your path? Were there things that didn’t go according to plan: big things, little things, important things? Now go farther back. Go on a story safari and recall those moments that were difficult at the time, but in retrospect, they taught you valuable life lessons.

The mistake, failure or small disaster is the obstacle that gives your story tension and infuses it with emotion. Think of “the moment” that you encounter the obstacle as the pivot point of your story. This moment causes you to make choices about what to do next. I call this the “The Iceberg Moment.” In the story of the Titanic, everything was going along fine, until the ship encountered the iceberg. If there hadn’t been an iceberg, we wouldn’t have a story worth telling – it would be a boring story about a big cruise ship that got where it intended to go.

The Event Doesn’t Have to Be Tragic


May 29, 2019

Corporate Storytelling – Storytelling in Business

Depending on the client and the event, I use stories that can be targeted towards lessons that are applicable in leadership, sales, marketing, fundraising or inspiration. The needs of the client determine what stories I use. My client’s audience isn’t interested in something that happened to me, unless I can relate it to their current situation.

Stories are Metaphors
My stories serve as metaphors for a problem or challenge that the organization as a whole, or the individuals in my audience, might be dealing with.

The stories that work best are what I call “hybrid stories”. They start out as personal stories that take place in a non-business setting, and then they transition into a business application. You can think of it as part one and part two of a story. (more…)