Thinking More About Stories

I’m not the only one with story-telling on the mind:

See Story Telling Before Bed  for more stories on telling stories. One especially caught my eye (Big Love in a Small World)  as stories don’t necessarily need to be verbal, they can be visual.

One great example of this

as seen on http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/us-army-creates-world-s-worst-powerpoint-slide-122255 is accompanied by, of all things, a moral: “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war” – General Stanley McChrystal, head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

As I think about it, a great deal of an entrepreneur’s time is spent weaving stories. That’s actually what we call it – telling a good story – when pitching investors. Some stories take quite a while to be told – “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” comes to mind, which Coleridge claimed that it dictated itself verbatim to him. But, if you’ve been skilful enough to get in front of a VC, you have no more than five minutes to tell your story, and the quicker you get to the point, the better.

Having been the victim of PowerPoint Practice on more occasions than I can remember, the best presentations aren’t the ones that glorify the technology or the market, but ones that have an introduction, a solution, and a moral. It’s not a story told to an empty room, but a painting painted by words for the people sitting there. Investors are smart, and you want them to understand the moral of the story even before you get there.

The story will change every time you tell it, hopefully for the better. It will also change depending on whom you tell it to: your mom, employees, investors, the press. Actually, I’d like to correct that – it’s the telling that changes, not the story. If you find that you are constantly changing the story, then perhaps you’re not ready to make that pitch.

Update: both Fred Wilson and Chris Dixon write on the power of story telling vs. showing off your spreadsheet acumen.

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