Story Masterclass: How to use storytelling in internal communications


Have you ever sat in a presentation where the speaker read from a PowerPoint? Or seen a video that is simply a sequence of facts and figures?  Not only is it tedious but the worst part is, as soon as you leave the meeting you completely forget the key messages of the presentation or video.
This is not only frustrating for all parties, but time wasting too.

In contrast have you ever seen a keynote speaker recount a riveting story about their life or experience? The chances are you hung on every word. So what’s the difference? Keynote speakers are expert storytellers: They know that storytelling is a powerful tool and it will engage the emotions and therefore hold the attention of their audience. They’re well practiced at it, and that’s what they get paid good money for.

As the legendary lecturer in business storytelling & movie scriptwriting Robert McKee says,

Stories are how we remember, we tend to forget bullet points.

Here are some lessons in how to bring storytelling into your internal communications video, so that you can engage your audience and present your business case like a professional storyteller. The most well used, successful and simple of all is…

The classic three act structure

As proposed by Aristotle.  Simply put, it means that any story has a ‘beginning’, a ‘middle’ and an ‘end’.  This structure of storytelling stands as the most popular one, and has been proved by Hollywood to be the most successful structure in commercial movie making.  Here is how you make it work in the business place…

Act One: The Setup. Your context and your character. Who is the story about?

If you want to present the new features of a piece of software for example, instead of listing its benefits in bullet points, you need to create an imaginary character.

Let’s say his name is Joe. What makes Joe tick? What are his characteristics? What are his irritations? Go through his day, what are his obstacles and problems? Why is preventing him from getting his work done and therefore getting ahead in the company? Humanise Joe, cast an actor, or create an animated character. You need your audience to care about Joe, so make him realistic and plant him in the context of you work place. Even better, you want your audience to relate to Joe, to see their own struggles in his.

Your character might be an entire company. Describe them: Humanise them: Describe the founding members (with permission); their culture; their wants and needs.

Act Two: What is the problem? The obstacle? The hindrance? The challenge?

This is the adversity that Joe has to face. It might be poor sales, problems with using a piece of software, problems with workflow.

Or perhaps your company is facing a huge obstacle: Are they failing to register on Google? Do they have transport issues? Logistical problems? Lack of investment? This is the problem that you and your company were able to solve. Which leads to the next act…

Act Three: Action followed by the result.

How did you help Joe or the company to improve their situation? What is their life or business like now? Use statistics that your audience can visualise. Don’t just say “The problem was, 25% of customers were dissatisfied.” That’s just numbers, instead say, “One in every four customers would rather take their business elsewhere.”  This is the feel good part of the video, where Joe overcomes adversity and makes the world a better place!

Follow up

If you wish, you can follow up your three acts with a lesson. What has been learned by this experience? How can you take the situation forward? Remember, your story MUST have a point or an outcome.

story reading

If you would like further help creating your case study or internal communications video, please get in touch.  Not only are we expert script writers, but we can help find the story that your business needs to tell.

See some examples of our internal communications and case study videos.