The 4 P’s of Compelling Stories

If you studied creative writing, communications or any other major where people ask if you plan to teach when you graduate, then you already know what makes a good story:

something happens to someone for some reason.

But in the business world, the elements of good storytelling aren’t as widely known as say SWOT analysis. So our job as communicators is to bring clarity through process.

Enter the 4 P’s.

  • 1. People – Who are the main characters and what makes them unique? If it’s Sandra from accounting and Tom from corporate services, what details make them people and not placeholders?
  • 2. Place – Where did this happen? Getting specific not only paints a more interesting picture, but also provides an opportunity to highlight other players (e.g. Sandra, out of the Tuscon office)
  • 3. Problem – What challenge was the main character trying to overcome? Every story must have a reason for being told. This is the emotional hook that gets your listeners invested in the journey and its outcome.
  • 4. Props – What processes or desired behaviors did the main character use to solve the problem? If it’s a new internal system, a mindset, or maybe just the values that guide the company, give these elements a place in your story to show how they shaped the outcome.

Whether it’s aligning a success story with the company’s core values or making an executive’s opening remarks more compelling, using the 4 P’s has helped us shape our clients’ stories – making them more engaging and effective.

The 4 P’s wield some powerful mojo, so use them wisely.

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