Chapter 7

Tell It: The Role of Narratives

Long story, short. People are buried in corporate-speak, but you can help them by embracing narrative storytelling to be clear, concise, and compelling.

I'm Tired of Meaningless and Meandering Corporate Jargon. I'm Ready for a Good Story.

“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” so said Steve Jobs at the start of his legendary presentation unveiling the first iPhone at MacWorld in 2007.1

This presentation, which you can watch on YouTube, is a terrific example of how businesses can use narratives to deliver key messages. He might not have been aware of it, but Jobs was building a strategic narrative to make his keynote presentation tight.

First, he stated his purpose for being on stage that day: “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

Jobs then talked about how Apple was a company that was always introducing these breakthrough products that really served a fundamental need people had—from the Macintosh to the iPod and iTunes.

All good narratives have a villain or a conflict. In this story, it was Apple's competitors, Jobs explained, who were not doing their job. Their mobile phones were hard to use and not very intuitive.

“The most advanced phones are called smartphones. They say it's the Internet. It's sort of the baby Internet,” he said, mocking his rivals. “They are not so smart and they are not so easy to use.”

Jobs argued that Apple needed to step up and create a breakthrough device ...

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