Organizations, entrepreneurs, and job seekers can all benefit from storytelling.
Organizations with compelling stories have engaged employees. Forget the annual survey–listen to the stories that employees are telling. Stories about the founders, or times where the company did something remarkable remind people of why they work there. Stories that explain why the organization exists and how it operates should be imprinted into the culture.
Entrepreneurs can utilize the power of story to connect with their customers. Having a powerful company story is a great way to stick out in a crowded marketplace.
Job-seekers can use stories to stand out from the horde of other applicants. People think in terms of narratives. Tell a powerful story and your interviewer will remember you.
Ready to tell your story? The “five beats” framework below will give you the structure you need to put it together.
How to Tell a Story in Just 5 steps (the five beats of storytelling)
Beats 1 and 2 (Beginning)
1. Setup – How things were before. This can be a brief summary of the status quo.
This is where you set the scene to let the reader understand how things are at the beginning.
Example: I went to work every day and dreaded it. I made sure to paint a smile on my face every day despite my desperation. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t know how. I’d been an accountant for years! How would I pay my bills if I quit? What would I do instead?
2. Inciting Incident – Dramatic incident that motivates the protagonist to go after a goal. This is where the status quo is broken.
This the challenge that the character is faced with. It is often times represented as a choice. It’s THE HERO’S CALL. This is a great time to show vulnerability, to create a shared experience around a challenge or struggle.
Example: My desperation at work reached a breaking point. I was done. I went into my boss’s office and said, “I quit.” My heart was fluttering…
Beat 3 (Middle)
3. Rising Action (The Plot Thickens!) – These are the challenges that your character faces; this is the journey. Use the rule of 3s here (3 challenges, 3 events, etc.).
Think of Jonah in the belly of the whale, or Dorthy’s challenges while traveling to see the wizard.
Being extremely detailed here with sensory-laden language will help make your story memorable. These are the events that build suspense and pull your listener in.
Example: I struggled every day to find a new job. Job boards, interview after interview, still, nothing. I was starting to lose hope. I started to think about other jobs I could do and became interested in learning about International development. I started networking like crazy and talking to people in the field. It seemed like an interesting field to explore. I met a guy at a networking event who had been in the field for twenty years. He agreed to meet with me over coffee.
A week after our coffee meeting, he called me to let me know about a job opening at his company. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but jumped on the opportunity. I managed to land an interview the following week.
Beats 4 and 5 (End)
4. Main Event (Climax) – Emotional change, climax. This proves the controlling idea of your story.
This is the event that answers the question posed by the second beat (inciting incident). This is where we see our main character’s transformation take place.
Example: After struggling to find my way, I finally received a job offer in international development that would stretch me and grow me in ways I never thought possible.
5. Resolution – States the controlling idea. Makes a line memorable (The Main Point)
This is where you present a memorable line. This is what ties in the whole story by repeating the controlling idea of the story.
Example: Having the courage to quit my job taught me an important lesson: Take chances, have courage, and never stop challenging yourself to find happiness.
Are You Ready To Tell Your Story?
We all have stories. Stories connect, reveal, and humanize.
Whether you’re a struggling job-seeker, an entrepreneur trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace, or a CEO trying to turn around an ailing culture, I’m confident that the five bumps of storytelling can help you tell your story.
Let me know how this works for you.