In a noisy world of social media and smartphones, your story is your superpower. Your story is the number #1 thing that sets you apart from the gazillion other people with similar job titles, products, or service offerings. It’s the most powerful way to convince potential investors, journalists, customers or even your employees to take action.

Think about the last three things you purchased. At some point, you probably came across words or a visual story that connected to a pain point, which led you to choose one brand over another. You may have purchased something simply because it tugged at your heartstrings. In either case, a story influenced your decision.

People Buy into People

Ultimately, buying is an emotional decision. The “know, like, and trust” principle is one of the most important factors for influencing someone. However take note, the business of storytelling is just not about you. Consider customer testimonials and employee stories that demonstrate the value you deliver for a specific target audience. Stories that demonstrate a connection to a social cause or movement is another way to gain trust and buy-in.

Make Your Message Resonate

Authenticity sells. Don’t shy away from including your mistakes and poor decisions. If you’re delivering a presentation, connect the dots of failure and success to strengthen your credibility and point of view. In a social media world, people love to share things that improved their lives in some way. However, you need bite-sized stories that engage the heart and mind in a short amount of time.

To make your message resonate with your audience, adapt your story to meet the needs of your audience. Think of it this way, a customer wants to know how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier. However, an investor wants to understand your market, financial performance, and ability for a return on their investment.

Stay Ready With a Story that Sells

As an entrepreneur, you have to stay ready for your moment of opportunity. At any given time, you could meet an investor at a gas station or at a networking event, in both instances, you need a story that sells. Here are five bite-sized stories you need to master:

1. One-sentence Story

Fancy job titles do nothing but confine you to the same box with a gazillion other people who have the same job title. Instead of introducing yourself by a title, use a one-sentence story that explains who you are, what you do, how you do it, who you do it for, and why it matters. The one-sentence story is perfect for networking events, your social media profile, as well as the first page of your website.

2. 30-second Story

What’s the aha moment, the challenge or experience in your life that inspired you to create or launch your business? To grab someone’s attention, identify the specific conflict, frustration, or a recurring problem you experienced. A simple way to begin this story is to use the word: “When.” For instance:

When {XYZ}___________ happened, I {action verb e.g., created, launched}______________ for {target audience} so they can {explain pain point you alleviate and results or outcomes you get for people}. 

3. “What’s in it for me?” Story

A “What’s in it for me?” story explains why you’re the right choice to help a customer solve their problems. For an investor, it shows your advantage over competitors in the market. Focus on explaining how your “Why?” uniquely benefits the person you’re talking to.

You can use this story format for pitch competitions, media outreach, or business partnership opportunities.

4. A “Brag” Story

A 2-3-sentence story with three parts — problem, solution, and impact. A “brag” story provides measurable evidence based on achievements, client success stories, or case studies. This story builds credibility and trust in your product or services. It answers a common customer question: Why should I trust you?

For this format, customer or client testimonials are your best storytellers.

5. A “Level-up” Story

A “level up” story is used to explain what you do now, the quantifiable results you’ve achieved, and what you’re capable of doing in the future. Consider this story format when you’re ready to convince someone you’re ready for next-level success (e.g., business partnerships, sponsorship, funding to expand).

Whether you like it or not, every single day you tell a story about who you are and what you have to offer, so you might as well take control of the narrative by sharing stories that communicate who you are and what you stand for.