Every book is a storybook. That includes your business book. Yes, we can convince with data, but we connect with stories. Stories hook our hearts. A book without stories is a rant, a lecture or a plea. A book that is underpinned by stories is a powerful bird. On its mighty wings, we soar high above the problems we face and see the patterns, like fields of colour below us. Then we swoop down to look more closely at them on a guided tour.
In daily discourse, we tell stories without a second thought. But this is not so easy when we sit down to write our book. Stories seem to disappear when we focus on them, which is why I recommend to all my clients that, while they are writing their book, they go on a story hunt every day and capture stories in an online story “bank” or journal.
Not every story you tell needs to be your own story. If you are writing a book, I suggest you start a daily story hunt. You will need at least 30 stories for a nine-chapter book. As soon as you start to look for stories you will find them everywhere.
To make good use of them, I suggest that you capture three essentials:
- The story itself in a couple of lines. For example, in Melbourne, we recently suffered a tragic attack in Bourke Street Mall (sad content warning here). Melbourne is mourning the death of the co-owner of Pelligrini’s café, Sisto Malaspina, who was killed in this attack. The floral tribute to him covered metres around the closed café.
- The source. Did you read the story in the paper, did you visit the tribute and place flowers, did you hear from a friend? Which friend? Which paper? Which day did you visit?
- The point of the story in your mind. In my mind, the story of Sisto’s loss is about how showing up creates connection. Sisto turned up at his café every day for over 45 years with an open heart and mind. Simply being there for so many people created a powerful connection with them.
Here are some places you will find stories to add to your bank.
Your personal life
Make sure your story has a point. Only go as deep as you feel comfortable going.
Your professional life
The vital element of these stories is to make sure you are NOT the hero.
Your clients’ experiences
Make sure you have their permission or anonymise the story.
Look for those that are more about events than opinions.
The Moth is dedicated to storytelling. Every great podcast relies on stories.
Newspapers and magazines
These bring currency to your book.
Friends and family
With their permission or anonymised. This is probably one of the more delicate sources of stories, so tread carefully when collecting stories from friends and family. Even if the rest of the world cannot guess who you are talking about, your friends and family will guess.
Consider funny stories. Too often – and I am guilty of this – the stories and examples I choose are pretty serious. Yamini Naidu is an expert in the transformative power of humour. I highly recommend her book, Power Play, in particular, the section on using humour.
Go forth and hunt down stories for your book.
Want more? You may enjoy: The power of the precise paragraph