Business Storytelling First Principles

John Scull

Mike Adams is right on target when he says that, “Storytelling is not the opposite of logical arguments.” Adams, M 2018 pp.41. Business Storytelling’s power comes from its scientific principles and standard frameworks.

In our workshops we begin by providing a definition of Business Stories. This is the slide just below. I always thought that this was a good slide, but after reading Mike’s book I can see it needs some clarification. So this post is about providing more detail to that.

Like logic, mathematics and science, business stories operate within a structure.

Although there is some discussion within the Business Storytelling Jedi Council about the exact framework this discussion seems to be more about the color of their light sabers. There is real agreement on principles that leads us to a framework


1. Business stories work best when the audience knows what is coming.

2. Business stories work when they are anchored in a fixed time and/or place

3. Business stories have a specific hero or heroes at the center of them.

4. Business stories describe a series of specific events that move the audience from setting – to complication – to turning point and finally to resolution. Each of these, has a corresponding emotional state.

5. The turning point in Business story is the key to ensuring the audience remembers the entire story. It must contain an emotional punch that alters the audience’s state.

5. Business stories lead to the audience learning something . Whether it is about you, about themselves, or about a situation the audience’s knows more now than at the beginning. specific hero or heroes at the center of them.

OK, What does all this mean?

To go back to Mike Adams, “I used to think it’s better to avoid telling stories to driver-style CEO’s or number-focused CFO’s. Now I know that those people also appreciate stories. Their brains are like everyone else’s.”

But, to engage these people we need to apply Business Story First Principles.

To help you do that I have adapted Mike’s Story template as a Google Document here.

Next time you are preparing to tell a business story, use the framework to make some notes and help you remember it.

Have a great week



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