Last week we discussed the five levels of engagement. This week, let’s see how elements from the StoryHow™ PitchDeck can help us do that:

As a recap, the five levels of audience engagement are:

  1. I drop my defenses and allow your content into my world
  2. I agree to loan you more of my attention
  3. I grant you the right to present your proposal
  4. I learn something valuable and meaningful
  5. I’m inspired to act

Step 1. Earn trust

At any given moment, thousands of marketers vie for our customers’ attention. The good news is that most care more about their messages than the audience, which gives business storytellers an advantage. Without both understanding and empathy for the audience, one cannot make a connection with them.

StoryHow Card #1 (Audience) is the place to start. Take time to study the audience. Learn more about them—beyond mere demographics. Who are they? What do they want? What do they need? What obstacles must your customers overcome and how can you help them? The more empathy that you have for your audience, the more trust you’ll earn, and the higher the probability of your audience dropping their defenses.

Step 2. Earn attention

Once on the inside, your job is to entice the audience to read more. Try some of these StoryHow™ Cards to help get through the ten second audition successfully:

  • StoryHow Card #15 (Sacred Cow): Question a long held belief.
  • StoryHow Card # 27 (Twist): Create a story structure that leads the audience down an obvious path. Then, just when they think that they know where the story is going, throw a twist at them. Not only will it demonstrate your knowledge of the situation, it’ll also add a layer of interest to the story.
  • StoryHow Card # 29 (Bad Advise): Sometimes the best advice comes from hearing a story about someone who acted on bad advice.
  • StoryHow Card # 31 (Jeopardy) Admit that adopting your message involves some level of risk to your customer. By dealing with this jeopardy, you’ll gain credibility that can be called upon later in the story.
  • StoryHow Card # 58 (Foreshadowing) Offer your audience a brief glimpse of the future. By helping them understand where you are taking them, they’ll have more appreciation for the journey.
  • StoryHow Card # 56 (Irony): Offer an ironic link between your message and the audience’s industry.
  • StoryHow Card # 51: (POV) Most marketers look at the product from their point of view. But storytellers are open to different perspectives. Perhaps you can tell the story from the perspective of a competitor, vendor, or investor?

Step 3. Make your Proposal

Congrats. You’ve earned the right to make your pitch. Be careful, because trust is a two-edged sword. Deliver useful and helpful information and you’ll be rewarded. Deliver trivial, obvious, or pedantic information and risk it blowing up in your face. Offer your audience a superpower (StoryHow Card #12), something that makes them powerful.

King Arthur had Excalibur. Thor had his hammer. Superman could fly. Can your product or service give your audience a superpower that they can use on their particular problem? If so, build your story around it.

Step 4. Teach something truly valuable and meaningful

It’s time to dig in. You’ve made the promise. You’ve delivered the message. Now step back and evaluate. Did you convey information in their terms? Can they relate with it? Can they see themselves in it? Have you created such a meaningful story that it sits in the back of their minds, just waiting to be recalled at the exact right time? If so, you have given them a gift that they can reopen at any time.

Step 5. Inspire action

Great sales people ask for the order. Great business storytellers ask their audiences to apply the lessons embedded in their messages. Encourage the audience to use their new superpowers. apply knowledge, help the cause, right a wrong, or slay a dragon.

It’s time to stop telling and start asking.