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6 min read

Business Storytelling Foundations: Step-by-Step Guide

Business Storytelling Foundations: Step-by-Step Guide

At 2Win, we often say, "The only thing worse than never telling a story... is telling a bad one." Stories in a business environment should always be closely connected to your core message. We like to refer to this as the "Big Idea." By aligning your story to the Big Idea, you help your audience remember your key messages long after your conversation has ended. Connecting emotionally with your audience's motivations is what empowers you to drive the next steps in your initiative. This blog aims to guide you in your journey to becoming a great storyteller. Here are some of the topics we will be discussing:

  • Storytelling foundations
  • The Path to the Big Idea
  • Storytelling Checklist
  • The 4 Most Common Business Stories

Business Storytelling Foundations


In this section, we will explore three fundamental storytelling foundations that serve as guiding principles for creating stories that resonate deeply with your audience. Similar to how a musician learns and practices scales, these foundations help you to develop your storytelling skills, enabling you to communicate your message in a way that is both memorable and impactful.

  1. Emotion drive action
  2. Limbic appeal
  3. Power of Association


While logic and reasoning undoubtedly play a role in decision-making, ultimately, people act based on emotions. Therefore, every buying decision is an emotional decision.

"People make decisions emotionally and then justify them logically."

-Chad Wilson, VP of Operations

It is important to recognize that emotions play a critical role in decision-making. When creating strategies, it's not enough to solely focus on the benefits or features of our solutions; we must also strive to connect with our audience on an emotional level.


The limbic system is the part of your brain that controls attention and is extremely powerful. The sensory processing system in your brain is constantly getting bombarded with information. As a result, your limbic system regularly prioritizes what you pay attention to. We want to be able to focus our audience's attention and avoid limbic overload. As you go through this blog, you'll learn:

  • How to capture your audience's attention
  • Drive focus
  • Remove non-essential story elements


The neocortex is the part of the brain that processes and stores information. It is responsible for memory and retention. People primarily remember things using one of two methods:

  • Repetition 
  • Association

Now, repetition can get a little... repetitive. You don't want to constantly repeat yourself during a presentation or conversation. That would just be awkward and unnatural. That's why we want to use the power of association when delivering key messages we want our audience to remember. 

Associations can either be positive or negative and we need to be deliberate in how we use them. Telling stories that are too close to home can have a negative impact because your audience has such strong associations that it's hard for them to see things from your viewpoint. You want to tell a story that isn't obviously connected to their current reality. Of course, you want to connect to the Big Idea, but taking them on a mental departure first will help them see things in a new way. 

Business Storytelling Structure 


In Storytelling2Win, we discuss how some stories can be told in as little as 15 seconds. In this section, we want to focus on developing longer stories. It's important to note that even though these stories are longer, they still need to be told in under three minutes and should connect to the Big Idea in 90 seconds or less. One of the biggest mistakes people make when telling stories is that they need to figure out how to connect their narrative to the Big Idea, which often causes them to be longer than necessary. Here is your step-by-step guide to connect your story to the organizational objective:

  1. Define the customer's primary organizational objective. While there are many impacts your solution could have for your customer in this step you are looking at the big picture.
  2. Define the customer's challenge in obtaining this objective. What is the underlying issue the customer is facing?
  3. Determine your solution to the customer's challenge. How can you help this customer solve their problem?
  4. Common story themes. Themes help us know where to look for examples in our own lives that we can use to shape the perspective of our audience. 
  5. Summarize the Big Idea. Now that you've defined each step, it's time to summarize the process in a simple sentence called the "Big Idea." Here's an example:

"Improve customer experience and reduce cost through better visibility and clarity."

Notice that this is broken into two parts:

  • The organizational objective: Improve customer experience and reduce cost.
  • Story Theme: Better visibility and clarity.

When crafting an impactful story, start by asking yourself, "What is the Big Idea?" With practice, this approach will become automatic.


Using a checklist can be an effective way to ensure that your story resonates with your audience. Before finalizing your story, it's important to ensure that it is captivating and relevant and conveys your message effectively. This can help foster a strong emotional connection with your audience. Here are three key elements that your story should incorporate:

  • Receptiveness: Will my audience be receptive to my story? Depending on the relationship, culture, and setting, a story may work well in one context but not in another.
  • Plot definition: Great stories should have a rise and fall. Look for a story that allows you to provide tension and resolution. 
  • Connection to the Big Idea: Does my story strongly connect to the Big Idea? If you can't make a strong connection to the Big Idea, it might not be the best fit for this particular situation.

It's perfectly normal for your story to go through multiple iterations before you get it just right. To start, simply outline the main points of your idea without worrying about making it perfect. With practice, your story will become more refined and polished.

The Four Most Common Business Stories


Have you ever heard a story that moves from topic to topic with no clear purpose? We call this crime the Rambler. It tends to happen when the storyteller doesn't understand the key elements of a great story. To get a better understanding of how to tell a great story, let's take a look at the four most common business stories.

  1. Illustrative Analogy
  2. Case Study
  3. Discovery
  4. Industry Insights


Illustrative analogies can be challenging to master, but they are the most compelling story type for making your message memorable. When done right, analogies can make your message resonate deeply, ensuring it's not just heard but remembered and acted upon. Here's why they work so well:

  • They make things interesting. Analogies add an element of drama that grabs and keeps your audience's attention.
  • They offer new ways to look at things. Analogies help people see old ideas in new ways.
  • They connect emotionally. People are more likely to remember something that touches their emotions.
  • They simplify complex ideas. Good analogies break down complex ideas into simple, easy-to-understand stories.


There is a pretty good chance that you have delivered a case study before. It is one of the most common story types told. The goal of a case study is to provide a thorough and compelling evidence-based narrative to support your message or solution. Unfortunately, we see time and time again people making these two big mistakes when telling a case study:

  1. Telling the entire story at once with too much information on the screen, completely floods the limbic system.
  2. Fail to connect the case study to how it specifically relates to the audience in front of them.

By addressing these challenges and employing strategic communication techniques, you can turn your case studies into powerful, engaging, and effective tools for connecting with your audience.


One approach that you can take is to share a story that you gathered during your previous conversation with them. Keep in mind it's important to reframe the information in a way that goes beyond just repeating the facts. Instead, you should present it back as a tailored insight that sheds new light on its significance. This does two things:

  1. Shows that you've been paying attention to the customer's needs and concerns, reinforcing the value of the relationship.
  2. Presenting Discovery findings in a new context can reveal insights or solutions that might not have been there before.

Sharing a Discovery insight is a powerful tool for engaging and influencing your audience. It demonstrates that you're more than a provider; you're a partner in their success.

Applying Discovery



Starting a conversation with a customer or prospect can be challenging, especially if you don't know much about them. One way to approach this is by sharing an industry insight. This can help you provide your perspective without compromising your credibility, because you are sharing what you see. There are two types of insights you can choose from:

  1. Industry Insight: You can gather industry insights from various sources such as publications, research reports, or the perspectives of thought leaders.
  2. Customer Insights: These insights come from other customers that you have that have use your solution to make decisions.

In Conclusion


Effective storytelling is not just about sharing information, it's about leaving a lasting impression that motivates action. To achieve this, the key is to emotionally engage with your audience, communicate your message with clarity, and make it relevant to them. If you can do this successfully, you can use storytelling as a powerful tool to convey your ideas and drive your initiatives forward. Whether you're pitching a new concept, sharing insights from a discovery, or illustrating complex concepts with analogies, the goal is to connect with your audience and inspire them toward your desired outcome.

We encourage you to practice and integrate these principles into your storytelling efforts. As you become more skilled at crafting and delivering stories that resonate, your messages will become more memorable and more effective in driving next steps.

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