Every story needs a protagonist. A hero. You would be wrong if you thought it was your product. It’s not. It’s your customer. And your product stories should describe how your products or services improve your customers' lives. That’s the “How will this be used?” message, a story that comes in two versions. The first, a modern thriller, that explains how your protagonist and product come together to solve a problem. This is the story that’s used by sales and marketing to sell what you have. The second version is science fiction, a story of the near future that has an improved version of the [user, customer, patron, passenger...] at its center. That’s the version of the story that’s used by product and engineering to build the products of the future.
If you have an eight-year old, or know an eight-year old, you know that great storytelling doesn't come naturally. It's learned. "What did you do at school today?" We read ... and then ... played ... and then ... johnny said ... and then ... the teacher said ... and then ... so I said ... and then ...
The way we've learned to communicate is wrong. Denizens of business, deep in the world of operations reviews, presentations and pitches, are communicating past each other, drowning in a sea of PowerPoint. It seems the general rule of corporate culture is to put that on a deck, or put some slides together. Many of you reading this will have lived through that ritual.
When giving a presentation, do you think about who you are presenting to? What’s in a good presentation? (Bullet points don’t count.) What about, how to be a better presenter? “It’s not rocket science” as Gavin says.
For a time in the 2000s, I worked as an in-house editor and writing consultant at a school of nursing, where I wrote grant proposals, edited research articles, and provided writing resources for people who didn’t train to become writers, but whose professional advancement depended on it. “Accidental writers,” I called them.