Business Storytelling: How to Edit a Story to Emphasize Themes

In the third draft of your business story, it’s time to address the themes that the story brings forth, the focus (direction) it needs to take, and its key message. Follow these steps:

  1. What themes are in the story?

    Several themes immediately come to mind for the SDG situation: working collaboratively, strength in numbers, power of philanthropy, leveraging resources, new possibilities, forging partnerships, and stronger communications.

  2. What key message follows from these themes?

    In all the themes, there is a common thread having to do with making something happen. You can turn that into the key message: Make it happen.

  3. What’s the focus the story needs to take?

    Sometimes a story could go in several different directions, depending on the primary audience for it and the purpose for sharing it. When this happens, you need to decide which direction to take. Is the story about homelessness or is it about a group of people who made a big dent in a very problematic social issue?

    This story also needs to promote the organization, so it’s important to incorporate how the organization wants to be perceived. To do this, three words — learning, demonstrating, and advocating — need to be conceptually woven throughout the story.

  4. Whittle the story down one more time.

    Take another pass, incorporating the focus, key message, and themes you want as layers of meaning in the story.

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