The 4 P’s of a Powerful Story

Author: Jocelyn Bérard 21 June 2012Education_010-290x300

Jocelyn Bérard, M.Ps. MBA is the Vice President of International Leadership and Business Solutions (Vice-président Leadership et Solutions d’Affaires???—???Internationale) at Global Knowledge Canada
 
From the earliest cave dwellers to modern corporate executives, people have told stories to make a point. Using the magic of the narrative form, stories summarize complex information and transform it into communication that is both entertaining and memorable.
 
Stories are powerful because they speak to both reason and emotion. A good story is easy to remember, and the listener will want to tell it to others. Effective storytelling is a very powerful way to organize and think about information while engaging an audience in your message.

Structuring the Story

A powerful story makes the point quickly and effectively. If a story takes too long, the audience is lost. If it is too complex, the audience is confused. The power of a story in part depends on its simplicity. Powerful stories are visual stories. The listener can see the players, see the scene, and feel the tension that makes up the plot of your story.

 
The 4 P’s of a Powerful Story

 
To ensure that your story has impact and purpose, consider the following basic structure.
 
Purpose: Know why you are telling your story. This helps you:

  • Focus on the essentials without bringing in unnecessary details.
  • Ensure that you follow a logical flow so that the message does not have to be explained — everyone will get it the first time.

 
People: Talk about real characters. Describe the people so your audience can imagine them. Paint a picture in words. Use actual conversations.
 
Plot: Give your story a beginning, a middle, and an end. There needs to be tension for a story to work. Keep your story simple. It is not a novel.
 
Place: Place your story in a location that people can visualize. Give them enough visual cues so that they can put themselves in your story.
 
Consider the 4 P’s of a powerful story the next time you communicate with your team, your organization, or your clients and watch engagement in your message flourish. After all, storytelling is a great way to enhance your communication.