Telling your story (Part 5) – Increase the tension

This is the turning point of your story. You know the moment when anything can happen, good or bad. It’s the moment when the hero can die and the bad guy can win. It’s the moment when you bite your nails or lip, when you girlfriend squeezes your arm, when you close your eyes and hold your breath. The moment of truth!

In movies and good stories, the inflexion point is the result of an almost scientific series of events, put one after the other like the steps of a staircase, to increase the tension. If you have built your stories based on the previous articles, you have grabbed the attention of your audience, you have set the scene with the good and the bad guys, and you have made sure you relate to the people in the room. In most cases, you are now able to guide them where you want, and you can now play with their emotion.

Emotions are the strongest drivers of human behavior, use them. If you are selling a product, you want your prospects to feel the lack of your product, so they will come to the natural conclusion they need it. If you are looking for capital to fund your company, you want your potential investor to feel this is the opportunity of the year and if they do not jump into it, they will not be able to win as much as they would.

However, saying it is not enough, you have to build the story so that it becomes an obvious truth in your audience’s mind. Stay calm, there is a simple magic formula to build the tension: step, obstacle, step, obstacle, step, and obstacle. This pair, step, obstacle, at least three times. Do not make it much longer though. What your audience wants to know is how you overcame the challenges that life threw at you.

The different steps do not need to be in chronological order. The importance is the obstacles seem more and more insurmountable. Let’s explore the capital seeking example. What you want to tell is while you were operating the company, you got an issue with product quality that brought you almost bankrupt. Explain what you did to you went up again. Then, go onto the large customer who did not pay you and closed its business leaving your cash flow in a terrible situation. Finally, go with the competitor who stole some of your ideas and created a pale copy of your products that left you with the duty to innovate more and faster.

You see the idea. In the case of selling a product to a customer or an idea to your team, walk them through last year’s or other customers’ successes, one after the other, and how you delivered those. Show you can be trusted, that your experience has helped to build a stronger you. Once the tension is at its peak, then you can deliver the results and bring the smile back to your audience. This will be our next week final topic.

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