This article originally appeared in Innovation Leader’s Success | Failure Fall 2019 Magazine.
To view the article on Innovation Leader, click here.
Everyone loves a good story. Stories are a great way to inspire, engage, and share lessons learned, and this is especially true for companies that want to step up their innovation game. There are many stories of creativity and perseverance by lone inventors or small teams who beat all the odds and create extraordinary success stories.
Without stories, everything is just a report—a bunch of pluses and minuses. How your innovation success stories are framed and described creates differentiation, attracts attention, and helps promote your accomplishments. Sharing success stories will increase engagement, spark creativity, and result in higher visibility for your innovation activities and accomplishments.
Here are seven techniques to telling a great innovation success story:
1. Make a Movie in Your Audience’s Head
Telling a great story is like making a movie for your audience. Instead of long-winded paragraphs of text, develop your story as a set of action scenes. Set up the scene, and describe what was happening—the characters involved and their emotions, motivations, actions, and reactions.
2. Use Casual, Everyday Words
No matter how complex the concept, tell the story in layman’s terms. Use metaphors and simple visuals to describe the scene. Your audience will include business executives and non-techies, and if they do not understand your jargon, then you will lose their interest.
3. Make It Emotional
One of the biggest mistakes storytellers make is leaving out people’s emotions as the story unfolds. When you share emotions, people make deeper connections with you and the story, which also helps them to better remember the story’s key takeaways. Captivating stories reveal how the main characters felt and what spurred them to action.
4. Highlight a Struggle
A story without some sort of conflict and adversity isn’t very interesting. It could be about how your team had to beat the competition, overcome severe resource shortages, deal with major technological uncertainty, or persevere through major change resistance.
5. Stick to the Essentials and Keep It Simple
Not every story you tell has to be an epic adventure or contain exhilarating, heart-stopping action. Sometimes the most effective stories are a simple and sincere depiction of an event or accomplishment without any unnecessary details. No one will be interested in learning details other than those specifically related to their actions or results.
6. Know Your Audience
You should start writing every story by asking yourself who your main audience is and what message you want to share with them. Then, make sure every scene you illustrate and describe caters to their interests and what they care about.
7. Don’t Spoil the Ending
The story should also have a clear beginning, middle, and ending. Don’t confuse your audience by jumping from one topic to another or by creating a complicated timeline of events. Suspense and tension hold peoples’ attention, and are essential to creating an emotional connection between you and your audience. If you have spoilers in the early parts of your story, then you may lose the audience’s attention the very moment they start getting interested in the topic.