As StoryStudio’s Words for Work program grows, I continue to be struck by the interconnections of how we tell our stories, and how we communicate at work. This is the first of several posts this year taking a closer look at this connection.
Small business owners are the busiest people on the planet so we’re always looking for a faster, easier way to grow. We’re admonished to move quickly so as not to give up market share to a competitor. And of course, we want to increase revenue and build our staffs.
So what if you have to cut a few corners to be the first one out of the gate? Think Big and you can build it. Right?
Call me crazy, but I’m obsessed with thinking small.
Last week a writing student asked me, “Can you just tell us the steps to writing a story?” The answer, I reminded her, was simply to “focus on the details.”
As a writer and teacher, I’ve learned that details are what separate the good from the bad. I tell my students that good writing–even a memo about payroll schedules–should be a conversation, a dialogue between writer and reader. Otherwise, why bother?
Successful business owners understand this concept too. We’re not just selling a service, we’re building a relationship and that’s hard work. But paying attention to the details can make it a whole lot easier.
We’re All Storytellers
Entrepreneurs need to learn what fiction writers have long known: the success of a story rests in finding “the significant details” as Eudora Welty once wrote. In good stories, it’s the details that captivate us, that allow us to “see” the story and that invite the reader to get involved in the conversation.
If I tell you my first bicycle was pink with training wheels, that’s not much to go on.
But if I tell you my first bike was built by the boy down the street who added training wheels and ribbons, and then jogged down the sidewalk with me, holding the banana seat with one hand while I learned how to pedal… now I’ve given you enough details to “see” the image. I’ve gotten you involved in my story.
In business, the same is true. Attending to the details–even ones as small as providing pen and paper at a meeting–can mean the difference between a client who feels uninvolved and un-invested and one who is now your project partner.
A version of this article was first published on Huffington Post. Jill Pollack is founder and director of StoryStudio Chicago, a creative and business writing training center. She also a co-producer of the content marketing conference, Content Jam in Chicago, IL.