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Compelling Narratives

communication May 24, 2024

I've been thinking a lot about storytelling lately as I'm reading How Clients Buy, to understand how you communicate competence and value delivery in compelling ways. I'm not talking about what stories would communicate that, but rather how stories can communicate that - structure and function rather than content. As you know presenting solutions and strategies that resonate with clients is crucial. The ability to tell a compelling story can make all the difference between a proposal that falls flat and one that gains enthusiastic buy-in. I’ve witnessed the transformative power of storytelling in bridging the gap between complex solutions and client understanding. The kind that causes trust to emerge and cements the start of a significant relationship, and I was thinking about how they do that


Storytelling is sometimes seen as a fluffy concept reserved for novelists and marketers. In consulting, it’s the bridge between your solutions and the client’s buy-in. You can have the most intricate plan for execution and believe that it will sell itself with the ingenious approach, but the reality is, that it won't. Clients’ eyes glaze over as you spew jargon or explain diagrams. Worse, they may even wonder what this thing would look like in real life. Compare that to painting a picture of what a post-implementation "day in the life" would look like and you'll see them lean forward with intrigue. So here we see the first important point, have a compelling narrative they can see themselves in. Storytelling demystifies the strategy, making it relatable and engaging. It turns abstract concepts into tangible benefits, aligning them with the client’s real-world challenges. So leverage that by helping them see the outcomes that will be achieved.


You've heard it before, "Know your audience", and that's a crucial piece here too. A room full of executives is going to want to hear about ROI and value rather than the latest process optimization techniques (unless is "AI-driven" lol). Given that audience, you should start with differentiators and you do that by initially drawing a line from their pain points to the outcomes that make a difference by way of your differentiators. It's a problem-solution-benefit trifecta that helps them know you understand both the challenges and outcomes that will make a difference. This is where authenticity becomes key so be sure you're speaking from understanding and not hypotheticals or it will smell funny. It's even possible to share some missteps or learnings you've experienced before since people connect with honesty. No one buys into a story that feels like a sales pitch so be sure you're telling the story rather than hitting the PowerPoint bullets.

Communication Strategies

The following is from my UX friends and is a significant aspect of the narrative, in my opinion. We think in images - when I mention "dog," you don't visualize the word in your mind, you see a furry, little guy wagging his tail and panting. If I say "royal," you may or may not grasp what I'm trying to convey. Recognizing this in communication can be crucial - visual aids are invaluable. Utilize infographics, charts, and imagery to convey your message or to clarify what you're discussing, and you can be more confident that your communication is resonating mentally as intended. Even better is if you can include a testimonial. It helps them see themselves in those quotes, and nothing demonstrates “this works” like a peer’s success story. It's like having a cheerleader in your presentation and establishing credibility that points toward a positive outcome they're seeking as well.


If you want to capture people's attention, tell a story. When putting it together, focus on creating a narrative that relates to their experiences. Use visuals to clarify and simplify, and support it with real-world examples to build your credibility. You will be surprised at the difference it makes, and you will leave a more memorable impact compared to just using jargon and diagrams.