Business Storytelling – Using Stories to Inspire

Learn how to tell stories that will help you sell products, build trust, or inspire your team.

How many times have you been enthralled by a good story?

Maybe you stayed up late to read a novel that you couldn’t put down, or watched a movie that you couldn’t switch off? Perhaps you pushed yourself harder because you heard a story about a colleague’s success, or you changed your opinion after reading a distressing story in a newspaper?

Stories can change the way we think, act, and feel. They can form the foundations of an entire workplace culture, and they have the power to break down barriers and turn bad situations around. Stories can capture our imaginations, illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions, and inspire us in a way that cold, hard facts often can’t.

Stories can be powerful business tools, and successful leaders use them to engage their teams. So, if you want to motivate others effectively, you need to learn how to tell a good story.

What is Business Storytelling?

People tell business stories to communicate and connect with employees, customers, colleagues, partners, suppliers, and the media. Business stories differ from regular stories, in that you tell them with an objective, goal, or desired outcome in mind, rather than for entertainment.

When you tell a story well, it can create an intense, personal connection between your audience and your message. Effective stories can change our opinions, they can inspire us to achieve goals that we didn’t think were possible, and they can show us how we can change things for the better.

When to use Stories

You can use stories to achieve a number of different goals. For example:

  • You have just started leading a new team. Your team members see you as an outsider, and they don’t trust you. You tell several stories about your past leadership roles, and explains why you are enthusiastic about this new position. You also disclose personal information, such as where you grew up and what hobbies you enjoy. Your honesty helps your new team to see you as a real person, not as a stranger, and they begin to open up and trust you.
  • You are a sales representative and meet with a potential client who knows little about what your organization offers. You tell a story about how one of your products helped reduce another client’s supply costs by 20 percent. The new client is impressed with the product’s effectiveness, and places his first order.
  • You ask your team members to attend a workplace safety class, but they’re not convinced that this is a good use of their time. You recount a story from a recent trade journal about an employee at a rival organization who was badly injured using the same machinery that your team members use. The story convinces Elsa’s team that the safety class could help prevent injuries.
Types of Stories
  1. “Who-I-Am” Stories

These stories explain who you are as a person. They tell others about your dreams, goals, accomplishments, failures, motivations, values, or history.

“Who-I-am” stories are essential to build trust. Tell these stories when you join a new team, or when you need to establish a connection with a stranger.

  1. “Why-I-Am-Here” Stories

“Why-I-am-here” stories communicate why you’re here, and their aim is to replace suspicion with trust. People want to know, “What’s in it for me?” but they also want to know, “What’s in it for you?” These stories explain that you don’t have a hidden agenda, and that you’ll both get something fair out of the situation.

For example, people may be asking themselves if you are passionate about what you do, or are you financially motivated. And are you here for the right or wrong reasons?

You can use “why-I-am-here” stories in fundraising, sales, and situations when you need to build trust quickly, or where you want to reassure someone that you’re on a level playing field.

  1. Teaching Stories

Teaching stories create an experience that transforms listeners or readers. They show how a change in their behavior, perspective, or skills can lead to meaningful results.

You can also use teaching stories to illustrate a situation, such as a best- or worst-case scenario.

  1. Vision Stories

Vision stories inspire people, and encourage them to feel hope or happiness. Here, you convince your audience that their hard work and sacrifice is worth the effort. You need to link their actions to a specific, valuable, and worthy outcome.

Use vision stories when you need to motivate people to change their behavior. They can inspire people to overcome the frustrations, obstacles, and challenges that come with change, so that they can achieve a worthwhile goal or ideal.

  1. Values-in-Action Stories

Values-in-action stories reinforce the values that you want your audience to demonstrate or think about. These stories can be positive or negative. For example, you can tell stories that demonstrate integrity, compassion, and commitment, or tell ones that highlight attitudes that you don’t want to see – for example, cynicism, a slapdash approach to quality, or a weak work ethic.

  1. “I-Know-What-You-Are-Thinking” Stories

“I-know-what-you-are-thinking” stories allow you to address others’ objections, suspicions, questions, or concerns before they voice them. With these stories, you need to anticipate your audience’s point of view, so you choose a story that deals with their unspoken concerns.

When you tell this type of story, you validate the audience’s perspective or worries. This allows them to feel that you’re on their side, and that you identify with their emotions. These kinds of stories are valuable in sales, negotiations.

How to Tell a Persuasive Story

A good story is like a recipe – certain “ingredients” need to be part of the mix for it to be a success. All great stories have three essential elements: context, action, and result.


The context is the element most neglected by leaders. Without context, your story may confuse or bore your audience.

The context provides the background information that listeners or readers need to make sense of your story. It should also spark their interest and make a connection, so that they care about what you have to say.

Context needs to address four key questions.

  • Where and when does this story take place?– Establish the “when” and “where” of your story, and clarify whether it’s fact or fiction.
  • Who is the main character?– This needs to be someone who your audience can connect with. In most cases, you are the main character.
  • What does he or she want?– Explain what your main character wants to accomplish.
  • Who, or what, is in the way?– Every story needs an obstacle or villain. This can be a person, an event, or a challenge.

As you think about how to tell your story, plan how you’ll answer these four questions. It’s also important to be authentic, especially when you tell a personal story.


Jeremy’s company has just had the worst third quarter in its history. At the annual town hall meeting, he needs to boost his team members’ morale, and inspire them to work harder in the fourth quarter to make up their losses.

“When I started this company 10 years ago,” he begins, “I didn’t know how to run a business. I figured I could do everything myself and succeed.”

“I was dead wrong. I worked 15-hour days to keep up with it all. I wanted to grow the company, but I quickly realized that I didn’t know how, and I couldn’t do it alone.”


Every great story has action: ups and downs, setbacks, conflicts, failures, and battles. The action is where we experience defeats and learn lessons.

In your story, your main character must “do” something. Ideally, he or she will experience a setback, failure, or problem along the way. Obstacles create tension and forge an important connection with your audience, because everyone experiences them daily.


Jeremy continues, “All of you know how stubborn I am, so I tried to go it alone. But I started to lose clients because I couldn’t keep my promises. I didn’t have time to bid for work, so my competitors got ahead, and I lost even more clients. This put enormous pressure on my family because I was never home. I knew that if things continued this way, the company would go under in a matter of months, and that I might lose my family. I needed help.”


At the end of your story, you reveal your main character’s fate. You also need to explain, subtly, what the audience should have learned from this result. What is the moral? Why did you tell this story?


Jeremy wraps up his story.

“Once I realized I had to ask for help, I did. I put some major projects on hold, and started to look for great people to help me. I handpicked each of you because you’re the best at what you do. You have the skills, knowledge, and experience that I lacked.”

This company is the success it is because of all of you. Every company has its ups and downs, just like I did when I first started this business. But I believe in all of you, and I believe that we will turn this problem around next month. So, let’s focus on the future, and think about how we can help one-another succeeds.”


Great storytellers know that a powerful story is only part of what inspires people to listen. Follow the tips below to become a better storyteller.

  • Listen– The best storytellers are also the best listeners. Brush up on your active listening skills, and give others your full attention when they tell a story.
  • Practice– Rehearse your story before you tell it. Even if you practice on your own, just once, in front of a mirror or video camera, this can improve your storytelling.
  • Create an experience– When you tell a story, you create an experience for your listeners. Appeal to all five senses; don’t just tell them.
Key Points

Business storytelling is the art of using stories to communicate and connect with employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and anyone else involved with your organization. The purpose of business stories isn’t entertainment. Rather, they have a specific goal or desired outcome.

To tell a great business story, it’s important to be authentic. Use stories that tell other people more about who you are, and why you’re here. And, don’t be too afraid to tell stories that show failure, poor judgment, or mistakes on your part. When you’re prepared to appear vulnerable in front of others, you can quickly establish trust and rapport.

En son ne zaman kendinize değerli bir yatırım yaptınız?

Speak & More
Üst Düzey bir yönetici olarak İngilizce konuşmanız arzu ettiğiniz seviyede değil mi?
İngilizce konuşma ve sunum becerilerinizle istediğiniz etkiyi bırakamıyor musunuz?
Öyleyse, altı ay içerisinde akıcı İngilizce konuşmanızı sağlayacağız.
Bugüne kadar yüzlerce profesyonele yabancı uzmanlarımızla destek verdik. Size de yardımcı olabiliriz.
Daha önceleri farklı eğitimler almış ve memnun kalmamış olabilirsiniz.
Speak & More gelişim programından sonra İngilizce konuşurken ve de yabancılara sunum yaparken kendinizi harika hissedeceksiniz.



12 Great Communication Secrets

To be truly successful you need to know how to be a great communicator. What makes one person better at it than another is often a matter of a few little-known communication skills. Here are the 12 most valuable ones.

1. Connect with yourself.

To be a great communicator you must first know who you are and have confidence in yourself and your ability to connect with others.

2. Speak with sincerity.

Nothing is more effective than being sincere when you communicate, and nothing is more important. Sincerity is the cornerstone for making a connection.

3. Be consistent.

Live your message and practice what you preach — you’ll have a wider reach and can carry more influence. Your credibility comes from your consistency of character.

4. Meet people halfway.

When you communicate you naturally want people to understand what you’re saying, but true communication involves meeting others halfway. You should be learning from others, not just talking at them.

5. Truly listen.

Make a point of listening to what the other person is saying. It not only gives you more insight into whatever’s being discussed, it also shows respect and builds connection.

6. Look beyond the words.

Don’t spend your time mentally preparing your next response. Instead, ask questions for clarification and to make certain you thoroughly understand what the other person is trying to say.

7. Show respect.

Everyone, no matter what position or role they’re in, deserves to be treated with respect. By being respectful you will set the tone of what your leadership is about and how you like to be spoken to. Respect begets respect.

8. Connect to identify.

Try to genuinely connect with others and find a way to relate to them. Working with others is an effective way to develop a greater understanding.

9. Know how to ask.

One of the most effective forms of communication is to ask questions. The ability to ask skillful questions and listen carefully to the responses is a huge factor in being a great communicator.

10. Be genuine in your interest.

It is one thing to communicate with people because you believe you have something to say, but it’s even better to communicate with them because you believe they have something to say.

11. Mind your unspoken language.

Your posture and tone of voice can also play a part in what you say. Our body speaks louder than our words, and sometimes can convey a message that we don’t intend to communicate.

12. Two-way traffic only.

Communication should never be a monologue. The best leaders create a dialogue by listening and inviting others to express themselves.

When you adhere to the secrets of communication of great leaders you can begin to develop strong relationships, gather important information, and increase your understanding of yourself and those around you.

Speak & More is proud to present Denizbank Power Business English Program

Denizbank kısa zamanda gelişme kaydetmeleri gereken çalışanlarının İş İngilizcesini yüksek verim sunan “Power Business English Workshop programıyla destekliyor.

İki ay süren gelişim projesinde, ayda iki tam gün yoğunlaştırılmış workshoplar düzenleniyor. Bu sayede, Denizbank çalışanları İngilizce konuşma,yazma ve sunum becerilerini özel uygulamalarla kolayca geliştiriyorlar. Yabancı uzmanlar eşliğinde, İş İngilizcesi konuşma ve sunum becerilerini kısa zamanda gözle görülür bir şekilde ilerletme imkanına kavuşuyorlar.

Speak & More firmasıyla yapmış olduğumuz Power Business English eğitimlerimizde katılımcılarımızın hem teknik hem de pratik olarak İngilizce seviyelerine katkıda bulunduk. Kurumumuzun beklentileri ve görüşleri doğrultusunda Speak & More ile başarılı bir sinerji yarattık.’’


Ezgi Gümüştekin
Deniz Akademi Gelişim Yönetmeni

Tips for improving Your Business Writing

Business writing is not easy. It has to be direct and persuasive. If you use too many unusual words or craft a rambling sentence that doesn’t make sense, you could lose more than a reader-you can lose a customer.

1. Avoid reversing into sentences

Poorly structured sentences often lead with a weaker (subordinate or dependent) clause, and end on an “active” (independent) clause- blunting their impact. Take the example below:

“In order to aid victims of the earthquake, the organization donated $500,000″.

If this sentence is restructured to lead with the stronger “active” clause, it reads much more naturally:

“The organization donated $500,000 in order to aid victims of the earthquake.”

Additionally, this new structure allows the writer to be more concise by removing an unnecessary phrase (“in order to”):

“The organization donated $500,000 to aid victims of the earthquake.”

2. Use crisp distinctions to heighten contrasts between opposing ideas

Drawing effective comparisons is an essential element of any writer’s toolbox. To maximize the impact of a comparison, make sure that distinctions are clearly structured, specific and as analogous as possible. This might mean making sure that your phrasing is very specific: don’t compare Q1 2015 profits with those of “previous quarters”, compare them with last quarter’s profits, or Q1 2014 profits.

Sentence structure and appropriate punctuation also play an important role in heightening distinctions, and guiding users through complex comparisons that bring in multiple details. Take the following sentence as a negative example:

“Candidates for the position include A, a former startup CEO with technical and managerial skills; and a contractor, B, who would need to relocate and has four years of industry experience.”

Although all the information in the sentence is relevant to the hiring decision, the structure and punctuation confuses the comparison- since the information about Candidate B’s relocation is not relevant to the comparison of the two candidates’ experience. Using double dashes to frame that detail as an aside helps reinforce the comparison.

“Candidates for the position include A, a former startup CEO with technical and managerial skills, and B — would need to relocate — a contractor with four years of industry experience.”

3. Avoid over-stretching your thoughts

While great writers often use long and complex sentences elegantly, excessively long strings of sub-clauses can often burden the reader and obscure your point.

The sentence below attempts to squeeze in too many sub-clauses, and it is a challenge for the reader to follow it to conclusion.

“Michael recently moved from China, where he taught english to students in China’s Solar Valley, a community which has enjoyed enormous investment from the Himin Solar Energy Group in solar technology, to New York, where he’ll be utilizing some of his Chinese contacts to start his own solar energy business.

With so many clauses and sub-clauses, the meaning of this sentence is lost and the impact blunted. Tearing it up into two sentences allows the reader to digest the information in manageable pieces. Within the first sentence, the use of a colon instead of a third comma also serves to emphasize the final and most important clause of the sentence (which connects it to the next sentence).

“Michael recently returned from China, where he taught english in China’s Solar Valley: a community which has enjoyed enormous investment from the Himin Solar Energy Group in solar technology. In New York, he’ll be utilizing some of his Chinese contacts to start his own solar energy business.”

4. Redundant word echoes make your writing fall flat

One of the biggest challenges in writing is the necessity of avoiding redundancy. The lines below illustrate the downside of redundancy:

“The submarine industry is on the upswing; but life in a submarine is notoriously cramped and unpleasant (with many submarine operators churning out of the industry on a regular basis). Nonetheless, submarine enthusiasts and investors in marine extraction industries continue to fill submarine order lists.”

If you have to refer regularly to a noun for which there aren’t many direct synonyms (for example, an article about submarines) you might have to get creative. Here are few options:

a non-direct synonym (vessel, craft)
a metaphor (refer to “life under water” rather than “life in a submarine”)
a generic term (instead of “submarine operator” just “operator”)

Speak & More is proud to present Burgan Bank Project

Burgan Bank 2012 yılında Eurobank Tekfen’in çoğunluk hissesine sahip olarak, Türkiye’de Burgan Bank A.Ş. olarak bankacılık faaliyetlerine başlamıştır. Orta Doğu ve Kuzey Afrika bölgesinde bankacılık alanında lider konumda olan Burgan Bank kurumsal, ticari ve kobi müşterilerine özel ürünler ve hizmetler sunmaktadır.

Burgan Bank, bankacılık sektöründe güçlü bir oyuncu olma ve hedef pazarlarda hızlı büyüme stratejisi çerçevesinde kritik öneme sahip pozisyonlardaki çalışanlarının İş İngilizcesini Speak & More ile geliştirme kararı almıştır!

Burgan Bank, yeni yabancı ortaklı yapısında yöneticilerinin iş İngilizcesi konuşma becerilerini Speak & More‘un özel bir programıyla destekliyor. “Business English Group Training” projesiyle yöneticiler etkili konuşma becerilerini geliştirirken, yabancı meslektaşlarıyla çalışırken kendilerini daha rahat ve hazır hissediyorlar.

Yeliz Erbaş“Dünya standartlarında kaliteli bankacılık hizmetini müşterilerimize sunma stratejimiz, yetkinlikleri yüksek çalışanlara sahip olmamızı gerektiriyor.
Kritik görevlerde bulunan çalışanlarımızın yabancı meslektaşları ve iş ortaklarıyla olan temaslarında yüksek kalitede iletişim kurmalarını istiyoruz. Bu amaçla, Speak & More ile gerçekleştirdiğimiz İş İngilizcesi gelişim projesinde, katılımcıların konuşma becerilerinde gözle görülür bir iyileşme elde ettik.

Değer yaratan ve çalışanlar arasında popüler olan bir gelişim programına destek vermekten ve güzel sonuçlar almaktan memnunuz.”

Yeliz Erbaş
Birim Yöneticisi
Eğitim ve Gelişim

Speak & More presents Alternatif Bank Project

Alternatif Bank, finans sektörüne ve ülke ekonomisine yaptığı değerli katkılarla yoluna emin adımlarla devam etmektedir. Alternatif Bank, 2013 yılında daha güçlü bir yapıya kavuşmak ve daha fazla müşteriye hizmet edebilmek amacıyla, Commercial Bank of Qatar ile ortaklık anlaşması imza etmiştir. Bankacılık sektöründe güçlü bir oyuncu olma ve hedef pazarlarda hızlı büyüme stratejisi çerçevesinde kritik öneme sahip pozisyonlardaki çalışanlarının İş İngilizcesini Speak & More ile Geliştirme kararı almıştır!
Alternatif Bank, yeni yabancı ortaklı yapısında yöneticilerinin iş İngilizcesi konuşma becerileriniSpeak & More‘un özel bir programıyla destekliyor. “Business English Group Training” projesiyle yöneticiler etkili konuşma becerilerini geliştirirken, yabancı meslektaşlarıyla çalışırken kendilerini daha rahat ve hazır hissediyorlar.

Bahar Mete Baran“Dünya standartlarında kaliteli bankacılık hizmetini müşterilerimize sunma stratejimiz, alanımızda daha aktif rol almamızı gerektirmektedir. 
Kritik görevlerde bulunan çalışanlarımızın yabancı meslektaşları ve iş ortaklarıyla olan temaslarında yüksek kalitede iletişim kurmalarını istiyoruz. Bu amaçla, Speak & More ile gerçekleştirdiğimiz İş İngilizcesi gelişim projesinde, katılımcıların konuşma becerilerinde gözle görülür bir iyileşme elde ettik. 

Çalışanların altı aylık programlara azalmayan bir ilgiyle devam etmeleri, bu özel programı kişisel gelişimleri için ne kadar önemsediklerini bize göstermiştir. Değer yaratan ve çalışanlar arasında popüler olan bir gelişim programına destek vermekten ve güzel sonuçlar almaktan memnunuz.”

Bahar Mete Baran
Eğitim Müdürü

Speak & More presents Aygaz Project

Koç Topluluğunun Enerji sektöründe faaliyet gösteren şirketi AYGAZ, üst düzey yöneticilerinin İş İngilizcesi konuşma ve sunum becerisini üst seviyelere taşımak amacıyla Speak & More ile uzun dönemli bir işbirliği gerçekleştirmektedir. Bu kapsamda, AYGAZ 2013 yılının başından beri değerli bir eğitim projesi yürütmektedir.

Yabancı çözüm ortakları ve müşterilerle yapılan toplantılarda, kurum yöneticilerinin kendilerini iyi hissetmelerini sağlayacak İngilizce iletişim sırları kendileriyle paylaşılmaktadır. Yöneticiler, etkileyici bir İngilizce konuşma becerisine kavuşmaları için yabancı uzmanlardan birebir coaching almaktadır.

“Executive Business English” projesiyle üst düzey yöneticiler konuşma becerilerini geliştirirken, proje sunumlarında ve müzakerelerde kendilerini daha rahat ve hazır hissetmektedirler.

Zelal Yetik“Yöneticilerimizin yabancı ortaklar ve tedarikçiklerle olan temaslarında İngilizceyi sıklıkla kullandıklarını ve kendilerini daha rahat hissetmek istediklerini tespit ettik. Bu anlarda etkinliklerini arttırmak ve kendilerini İngilizcede rahat ifade edebilmelerini sağlamak amacıyla, “Speak & More Executive Business English” programını uygulamaya aldık.

Yüksek kaliteli bir yönetici gelişim programı düzenliyoruz. Elde ettiğimiz sonuçlardan hem yöneticilerimiz hem de kurum olarak memnunuz.”

Zelal Yetik 
İnsan Kaynakları Sorumlusu 

Speak & More presents MSC Turkey Project

mersin I (6)MSC Türkiye, satış ekibi ve satış yöneticilerinden oluşan 120 çalışanına 6 ay süren özel bir proje kapsamında Speak & More İngilizce sunum teknikleri eğitimini aldırdı. İstanbul, İzmir, Bursa ve Mersin lokasyonlarında gerçekleşen seminerler sonucunda, katılımcılar İngilizce etkili sunum hazırlamanın ve yabancı iş ortaklarını kolayca etkilemenin yollarını öğrendiler.

IST III (3)MSC Türkiye ekibinin dünya standartlarında İş İngilizcesi gelişimine destek olmaktan Speak & More olarak gurur duyuyoruz.

“Speak & More ile eğitim verdikleri bir firmanın referansı vesilesi ile tanıştık. 2012 yılında 6 aylık süreç içerisinde Tüm Satış ekibimiz ve Satış Yöneticilerimiz için İngilizce Sunum Teknikleri eğitimini gerçekleştirdik.

Katılımcılarımıza eğitim davetini ilettiğimiz günlerde, eğitimin içeriği, derinliği ve yaratacağı fayda hakkında tereddütler vardı, ta ki ilk grubun eğitimi gerçekleşene kadar. Eğitimin içeriğinde yer alan her bir sözcük gerçekten de iş yaşamımızda etkin kullanabileceğimiz bilgilerle doluydu.

Serap Tosun“Biz zaten yıllardır sunum yapıyoruz ve İngilizcemiz de gayet iyi” duygusuyla eğitime giden katılımcılarımızın tamamından sözlü veya yazılı teşekkür mesajları aldık. Verdikleri geri bildirimde, son derece faydalı bilgiler edindiklerini, kendi becerileri hakkında ciddi farkındalık kazandıklarını, aktarılan bilgileri yalnızca sunum sırasında değil, günlük iş akışının her anında da kullanabildiklerini ifade ettiler.

Speak & More’a gelişimimize sağladıkları katkı, profesyonel ancak içten ve samimi yaklaşımları için teşekkür ederiz.”

Serap Tosun
İnsan Kaynakları Müdürü 
MSC Gemi Acenteliği A.Ş.

Speak & More is proud to present Abdi İbrahim project

Abdi İbrahim, ilaç sektöründe global bir oyuncu olma ve uluslararası pazarlarda hızla büyüme stratejisi çerçevesinde kritik öneme sahip pozisyonlardaki çalışanlarının İş İngilizcesini Speak & More ile Geliştiriyor!

Türkiye İlaç sektörünün lider kuruluşu Abdi İbrahim, çalışanlarının iş İngilizcesini Speak & More‘un özel bir programıyla destekliyor. İkinci dönemi başlayan “Business English Conversation Club” projesiyle çalışanlar etkili konuşma becerilerini geliştiriyor, yabancılarla iş yaparken kendilerini daha rahat ve hazır hissediyorlar.

Berna Boragan

“Global bir oyuncu olma stratejimiz uluslararası pazarlarda daha aktif rol almamızı gerektirmektedir. Kritik görevlerde bulunan çalışanlarımızın, yabancı meslekdaşları ve iş ortaklarıyla olan temaslarında yüksek kalitede iletişim kurmalarını istiyoruz. Speak & More ile bu amaçla gerçekleştirdiğimiz İş İngilizcesi gelişim projesinde, katılımcıların konuşma becerilerinde gözle görülür bir iyileşme elde ettik.”

Çalışanların altı aylık programa azalmayan bir ilgiyle devam etmeleri, kişisel gelişimleri için bu programı ne kadar önemsediklerini bize göstermiştir. Değer yaratan ve çalışanlar arasında popüler olan bir gelişim projesine destek vermekten ve güzel sonuçlar almaktan memnunuz.”

Berna Boragan
İnsan Kaynakları Müdürü
Uluslararası Pazarlar