BUILDING YOUR STORY

7 steps to communicating a powerful vision

Whether you’re looking to knock your next pitch out of the park or garner good press with a local news agency, effective business communication skills are critical to communicating your vision.

So, read on for some proven tips on crafting a powerful story that you can apply to your business today.

Determine your intention

Why and what do you want to communicate? Is it to highlight a service/product as an extension of your business or to highlight your team’s principles to build brand awareness?

For example, do you want to communicate that you’re an expert in small business marketing or a sensation at design and decor? Knowing your purpose keeps you focused.

Write it down

Get it down, or you can’t share it with the right audience. If writing or recording a video intimidates you, lean on employees who are willing to learn or be trained at a new skill. Of course, there are also professionals who can help with effective communications, whether it’s writing, editing or social media engagement. You’re not expected to put beautiful prose together like J.K Rowling.

Keep it simple

Clear, concise, succinct. Stay away from filler or what author Ann Handley calls “meandering” – she emphasizes that businesses should communicate ideas in a way that “respects the reader; to ensure that any content we produce doesn’t come off as indulgent.” We can get stuck in a loooong trail of writing that takes 10 words instead of 50. A good way to know if you’re getting stuck in that trap is to read your words out loud or to someone else.

Be authentic

Storytelling isn’t permission to tell a tale – especially one that isn’t true or genuinely your story. Too many communicators tell a similar story, one that follows a template or format, void of details or connection. A good story is real – it’s oozing with emotion, delivered with motivation.

Capture your voice

Use your words, your expressions. You don’t need to sound like that captivating speaker you recently watched on a TED Talk (although we all have our mentors who can model some good habits in delivering content). Deliver your message your way – but be sure to practice it, feel comfortable in your delivery and communicate it with confidence. A note about style: Stick to a conversational style versus one that’s scripted or clinical.

Write it for your audience, not your peers

Whatever you write has to be meaningful to readers. Remember, you’re building a relationship with them. It may not resonate with everyone, and that’s OK. A common mistake professionals make when trying to market to their target audience is writing for their peers, not the end user. Often times, they’re not one in the same.

Review & rehearse

This will separate the novice from the professional. We’re so used to hammering something out on the keyboard and pushing that send button without pause. But that’s not how the professionals do it. Even the most seasoned executive business coaches take their time with a manuscript, put it down, and come back to it. You want to come out strong and sharp.

CREATE A PLAN TO GROW

6 Surefire strategies to shape your vision

In our last newsletter, you learned how our 3 C process – Create, Communicate, Close – has proven to help our business clients grow. We use the framework to help small and medium-sized businesses develop while integrating a plan that ensures they build successfully for the long term. 

Here, we dive into our first C – CREATE – where we take you through simple and effective strategies to set you up for bold sustainable growth. 

Let’s get to it!

Know your why

Purpose is a powerful propellant. It guides our mission, fuels our efforts and helps us stay focused. Every successful business leads with their why

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek, leadership guru, author and inspirational speaker. Let’s take the example of Tesla. The company’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” is all about why they are in business. What they do and how they get there – that is, to build compelling electric cars to market as soon as possible – follows their purpose. 

Taking the time to understand your why ensures you and the people who work for you know, at the core, why you do what you do and are then able to communicate it to customers. 

Questions that all businesses should ask themselves:

  • Why are we here?
  • What is our mission and passion?
  • Why do we go to work?

The answer to these questions is NOT “because I want to make money” (although that may be a positive residual effect of growing a business) but rather it might be “because I love and use the X product I’m selling” or “because I want to bring happiness to customers” or “because X business is in a growing industry and I want to be part of it.” Identifying your why influences all other decisions around the business.

Create a vision

Four years ago, one of our clients wanted to change the way his business was impacting the environment. As an architect (and partner to the home construction sector), he knew the housing industry was a big contributor to landfill waste, air pollution and energy consumption. So, he began to put a plan in action to become a sustainable architect, focusing his designs on buildings that have durability, longevity and resilience. Today, he has drastically reduced his carbon footprint with renewable resources, his business is growing and he’s never been happier about his contributions to his community and the environment at large.

The lesson here is to create a vision for the future you want. Even when that vision seems difficult (Apple was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in 1997) focus is important. As Tesla’s Elon Musk often professes, don’t be afraid to think big.

Write it down

A vision can’t move forward without a written plan. When you write things down, you’re more committed and driven to reach goals. Planning for a sustainable future also requires a plan with longevity. Likewise, aligning your employees with a clear vision from the beginning gives them purpose and place in the continual growth of the business. It also strengthens the culture of the organization, which in turn drives productivity. When you write a plan and the team is behind you, you can create your future.

Plan with a SAP

Our Strategic Action Plan (SAP) helps clients determine three-year, one-year and 90-Day Sprint goals for their business. This type of planning requires a commitment to setting goals, actions to meet targets and flexibility to continually update plans and keep pivoting when necessary. Why start with three-year targets? While this is a shift from the typical one-year business plan, by focusing on three years before you chart your yearly and 90-day goals you begin with the end in mind.

One of the biggest reasons why strategic plans fail is that they are too complicated. Integram’s SAP, for example, charts goals in a simple, one-page format to provide a bird’s-eye view of targets. A simple plan encourages you to be clear, concise and concrete.

Ready, set, revisit

When to plan is equally important. Most businesses don’t make planning a priority and tend to revisit plans only when things go wrong and, subsequently, need to dig themselves out of a situation.

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. Another 50 percent spend no time working on strategic plans. When it comes to communicating strategy, 95 percent of employees don’t understand the company’s efforts in this area. Researchers attribute the lack of attention to planning as one of the key reasons why businesses fail to meet their strategic targets.

It’s a common pitfall when business is doing well.

Planning needs to be a continual process so you’re ready for an uneventful situation (read: Covid-19). It allows you to forecast foreseeable issues and be ready to shift focus when necessary. Crisis planning, for example, may include selling merchandise through an online store in the event of a shutdown or to keep things afloat while the course is under repair.
The constant process of planning is vital because as soon as you implement a plan, it can be old, something can go wrong, or your competition has figured out a better solution. Don’t make planning “an event” but a “process,” explains Simon Sinek. “The process of planning” and not the plan itself is important. In other words, haphazard planning doesn’t make the cut.

Set the course to grow!

The final phase in our Create pillar is creating a unique and memorable brand identity that outlines key features such as the company’s principles and tagline, among others. This type of brand groundwork will set the foundation for the next phase, where you’re ready to build your story, shape it and share it to reach your target market.

…This takes us to our second C – communicate. Stay tuned for our next newsletter for more.

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