Use the three-act structure in your business storytelling
When you’re telling business stories, consider leverage the three-act structure — one of the most popular formats of a story. It looks like this:
We get to know the protagonist and his or her skills. In this case, the protagonist is your brand, your product, or the hero representing your business. Ask yourself about who the protagonist is, and what values you want them to uphold. In Act I, you also want to present a problem. This is where you establish a need that is failing to be met, or a niche that has not been sufficiently catered to.
The story becomes more specific and the protagonist meets a challenge — or a series of challenges. These trials and tribulations usually demonstrate how the protagonist’s skills improve and grow over time. Eventually, this leads to a climax, in which the protagonist proves their value, or solves a problem — i.e. becomes “the hero.”
In most stories, Act III is the resolution. Here, we tie up loose ends and give a hint about what will happen in the future. For the sake of the art of storytelling for business, this is also where you should include your call to action.
Examples of the Three Act Structure
Okay, you might be thinking…that all sounds well and good…but how in the world do I actually apply it? Glad you asked! Here are some examples.
- In a case study video
- Act I: You might briefly introduce your brand and discuss why the client came to you with a problem.
- Act II: You reveal the steps you took to resolve the problem, how you enacted them, and the end result (hint: you solved the problem!)
- Act III: If you can fit in a client testimonial, let the customer attest to how satisfied they were. Or skip this step, and jump right to a call to action. The call to action could be as simple as inviting the viewer to reach out if they have similar problems. Or it could provide instructions for booking a demo, or visiting a website.
- Sales pitch
- Act I: Reveal a problem your viewer faces, in a simple way. For example, a time-share company might point to the fact that we pay for all sorts of items in bulk, because it’s smart. “So why don’t we do the same thing with our vacations?”
- Act II: Explain how your product or services solve the problem — telling your story in such a way that positions your brand as absolutely essential. In doing so, anticipate points of doubt in advance, and knock them down as you go. Use imagery to help your clients imagine working with you.
- Act III: After a smooth transition, invite the client to take advantage of the opportunity. If they say no, you start back at the first step and repeat the process until their answer changes.