use corporate storytelling for effective management

Featured Corporate Story - July 2003

Your Company's Story: A Turn-OFF or A Turn-ON?

Your "elevator speech" is one of the most important business messages you'll ever develop. If it's done correctly, it will "hook" your listeners and/or readers so that they're intrigued and want to know more about your company's product or service. If it isn't done well, people will look at you blankly and mutter something polite, such as "Oh, interesting"-- and change the subject or move on.

Your elevator speech is the core of your story, and it needs to explain the benefits and results of what you offer so that your audiences can quickly grasp WHY they should care! Instead, many, if not most, companies make the mistake of talking about their approach, or their technology, or their delivery methods--and totally lose people right from the beginning. It's especially critical to understand how to express your core story when you're looking for investors. You need to hook them right away in the executive summary, beginning with a strong core story, or else all your efforts in preparing the business plan are wasted. The same holds true, of course, for any business proposal.

The importance of a clearly stated executive summary was explained very well in a recent edition of The Northwest Entrepreneur Network's e-newsletter. Written by Marilyn J. Holt, CMC, Holt Capital, the article offers a "typical" opening statement of a hypothetical firm and then contrasts it with an effective, results-oriented statement. For any skeptics who think this case is over-stated, her most convincing point on the importance of a strong opening statement: institutional investors attending a venture capital conference earlier this year were advised to go with companies that are "on message."

What does it mean to be "on message"? It means to be absolutely clear about your core values, the behaviors you expect from the people working with you, and to live those values every day--in what you do and how you do it. Being "on message" is being clear about your corporate story.

For Holt's complete article, go to


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