“Great stories happen to those who can tell them”
- Ira Glass

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Welcome to the Story Rules Content Hub – the best place on the web to learn all about storytelling techniques for work. Here’s where you get rich storytelling examples, analyses, viewpoints, interview nuggets, visuals, quotes, and much, much more. To find out how you can make the most of this resource, please watch this 12-minute video.

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10-guidelines-to-make-impactful-PowerPoint-presentations

10 guidelines to make impactful PowerPoint presentations

The phrase ‘Death by PowerPoint’ returns an inordinate 75M hits on Google. The reason? Many users just consider PowerPoint as ‘MS Word plus Headers and Bullets’ and end up creating dense, soul-draining slides. Perhaps that’s why Amazon did away with the use of PowerPoint presentations in its meetings… That’s a pity, because, if used well, PowerPoint is a great tool to tell a compelling, visual story. And you don’t need designer-level skills for that – these 10 guidelines are a great way to super-charge your presentation. I have divided these ideas into 3 sections: Narrative, Visuals and Delivery – Narrative: Your story in words …

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Amazon’s 2019 shareholder letter: Top 3 storytelling lessons

Jeff Bezos published Amazon’s much-awaited annual shareholders’ letter on 11th April. It made the headlines for one particular inclusion: his ‘challenge’ to retail competitors, to match Amazon’s $15-an-hour minimum wage and employee benefits. Looking deeper into the document though, there are some critical storytelling lessons that can be gleaned. Here are my top three: I. Make it Surprising II. Make it Structured (here’s where we look at the 1-slide summary) III. Keep it real and relatable Let’s examine each one. I. Make it surprising I have blogged earlier about the value of surprise (using the principle of norm-variance) to get the audience’s attention. Bezos uses it multiple times …

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Storytelling lessons from the world’s 3rd Richest Man

Warren Buffett may be one of the most envied guys on the planet – for his unparalleled wealth, that magic touch in picking stocks, and decades of consistent outperformance. But he also has a most unenviable task: to write a 12-page annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders – a document that is eagerly awaited by the investing world at large. Why should that be so difficult you may ask? Consider the facts. 75 companies, 365 days, 12 pages Berkshire Hathaway is not your normal holding company. It’s the world’s third biggest by revenues ($247B) that owns an incredibly diverse set of companies – seventy-five …

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A 10-line cheat-sheet to craft your work story

Do you get stuck in any of the following situations: Your team has just completed a kickass project and wants to tell a story that does justice to their effort and outcome You are pitching your company/product to a key institutional client Your six-year-old never tires of asking you: “Papa/Mamma, can you please tell me a story” In each of the above situations, the issue is not that you don’t know what to say (ok perhaps in the third one it is). The issue is you don’t know how to structure your thoughts in a simple, engaging story format. If …

Steve-Jobs-Elon-Musk-and-Yuval-Harari-have-used-this-storytelling-technique-–-you-should-too

Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Yuval Harari have used this storytelling technique – you should too

What if I told you there is a foundational storytelling technique that all successful business storytellers use – one, however, that isn’t noticed by many of us? I have a name for this secret tool: “Norm-Variance”. Let’s look at some examples. The iPhone launch January 9, 2007 was an epochal day in our times: the day when the first Apple iPhone was announced. Steve Jobs was in his element, mesmerising audiences near and far with his pitch-perfect storytelling. One sequence that stood out for me in particular, was how he introduces the iPhone itself. Initially he toys with the audience indicating …

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The 7Cs Business Story Framework: the Hollywood Avatar

Earlier this week, I had posted an article on the 7Cs Story Framework, by analysing the storylines of super-hit Bollywood films. However this is not just an Indian phenomenon. These constructs are universal and Hollywood is also adept at using them for its blockbusters. In this piece we will repeat the points made in the earlier article, but replace the movie examples with those from Hollywood. I have chosen some of the biggest hits for the analysis: Avatar, Star Wars and Finding Nemo. If you had already read the previous article, you can directly go to the section on Hollywood movies 🙂 …

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The 7Cs Story Framework: Crafting a winning sales deck

Is there one Story framework to Rule them All? You have a big presentation coming up – pitching your product to a prospect, sharing a project success story, or just convincing your boss to approve a new training program. You have your standard credentials deck/project presentation, but have the feeling that it is more snooze-inducing than approval-winning. The slides are filled with information, the flow doesn’t seem right and there’s too much “me” and too little “client/you”. In today’s attention-deficit times, that approach cannot work. You can’t just inform – you have to engage. Is there a way to persuasively structure your …

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Deconstructing (and critiquing) Amazon’s shareholder letter

The secret of Amazon’s success: High standards Amazon is highly respected and feted for its exemplary customer service. What drives their unprecedented success? In this fascinating annual letter to shareholders (which is also a great marketing document), Jeff Bezos details the most critical factor: their culture of high standards. High standards (of communication) Now “high-standards” by itself is a sufficiently vague concept that can have multiple interpretations. What Bezos does is to expertly dissect it in a vivid, structured manner. And so, this letter, apart from holding invaluable business lessons, also becomes a great example of written communication. Amazon is a famous …

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Business leaders: Don’t settle for less during review meetings

This post is about a most common activity that business leaders engage in: attending review meetings. I think the existing format is ineffective and needs a significant overhaul. Let’s look at two examples that I came across. Story 1: An emerging technology company “Whenever a presentation needs to be made, the CEO calls me” stated Frank* proudly, as he browsed through his laptop to show me some decks he had made. He was part of a 20-participant batch undergoing training in better storytelling techniques at a rising technology company. Frank opened a document and ran me through the slides. He …

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The King and Minister story: How to write better emails

As a kid, I’ve spent hours immersed in Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha comics. One story from Tinkle, in particular is unforgettable for me – the King and Minister one. Here’s how it goes: In a small kingdom, the King had a favourite Minister, whom he relied on for all critical decisions. The other couriers weren’t happy with the Minister’s influence and complained to the King. In response the King told them: “Do you see that caravan of bullock-carts in the distance?” “Yes Sire” “Find out where it is from” They rushed and came back “It is from Rampur Sire.” …

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