A Connected ThemeLet’s face it. There are a lot of stories you could tell. Which one is the right one for the chamber and how does it advance your goals? With business storytelling, you’re giving your audience something that they’ll remember and hopefully repeat to others. So, you don’t want to tell them just any story. Think about a theme or initiative you’re trying to advance, something you want to be tied to like being labeled “the voice of business” or “the workforce development machine.” The label doesn’t have to be your next tagline. It’s simply a concept you want to be known for as part of your branding; it’s a theme you want to reinforce.
Just as your strategic plan guides decisions of what events and programs you spend time on, your chamber story theme will help you decide which narratives to advance. There are lots of stories to tell. But you want the ones that will help reinforce your brand. You do that by selecting a theme.
Brand ConsistencyYou want your story to focus on the brand you’re creating. It must reinforce what people have come to believe about you (unless you’re trying to become something completely different).
When others experience your story you want them to have two reactions:
- “I didn’t know that.” The surprise will make the story memorable, but you still want them to say…
- “But that sounds like the chamber.” If you tell them something that conflicts with what they imagine or know about you, they’ll experience a moment of disconnect. That moment whn they’re thinking about that will take away from your story and they’ll likely forget your message.
A Good Conflict
Conflict is one of those storytelling components that’s important for fiction and business. However, since you’re telling your chamber’s story with a business goal in mind, you want to make sure your conflict serves that purpose. For instance, while there may be a very exciting conflict going on between you and your city leadership or you and your board, that’s not the type of story that will lead to more members (although it could make a good tell-all book so hold onto it). A good conflict in a business story addresses adversity and how you overcame it or focuses on the adversity facing your members and how you helped them overcome it.
A StageWhile conflict is a necessary part of any story because it causes listeners or readers to wonder what will happen next, it isn’t exciting if there’s no context. Think about the Arthurian legend where a young boy removes a sword from a stone. If I only tell you the climax of the story—the young boy walked up, wrapped his hands around the sword, and yanked—you likely will think “What’s so special about that?”. However, if I provide the context that all the strongest men in eight provinces had tried and all had failed, one even lost his life in the attempt, you’d likely be concerned for that little boy. On the other side, after he pulled out the sword, you would be even more impressed because the stage had been set. You need to remind people what it was like before the conflict so they can feel what you were feeling and thus be connected to you.
A Satisfying ResolutionJust as you need a good setup or stage, you also need a resolution. This not only satisfies human curiosity but helps solidify in their minds that by overcoming that crisis or conflict, you can help them with theirs. A satisfying ending to the conflict is essential. However, just like a Marvel movie, your ending should hint that it’s only really the beginning. You want people to feel like you’re just getting started with lots of amazing things yet to come.
Next week, we’ll go deeper into the theme part of storytelling and cover how stories should be an extension of your chamber culture.