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Imagine this: you’re already convinced that you need to include a compelling narrative in your proposal for your budget. You know you have to get the entire budget you’ve requested in your proposal, that the trajectory of your career, and the profitability of the company, depend on it.
But you’re not sure how to create that important compelling narrative. What do you do?
How do you create a compelling narrative?
One way to figure out how to create a compelling narrative is to look at methods that are already known to create compelling narratives. One place to look is in the theater.
The best theater uses compelling, powerful narratives to tell stories that engage the audiences. These are the kind of stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, make you cry, make you laugh. What’s more, these stories are truthful. What happens in a play may not have literally happened in real life, but the characters and their situations are believable.
Learning from the compelling narratives in theater.
In theater, one particular approach to creating narratives is that of creating characters who have wants. The narrative follows how the characters pursue their wants, the barriers that get in their way, and how they get what they want – or they don’t.
Four steps to creating a compelling narrative.
Here’s a process used in theater to create characters with wants. A playwright uses this process when writing a play; actors and directors reverse engineer this process when producing a play.
You’ll use this process to create a narrative to support your pitch for a budget to produce the product your company will produce, the app you’ll develop, or the service you’ll provide.
1. Start with a person who has a strong want.
First, you create the person your narrative will be about. This character may not be an actual person, but has to be representative of actual people.
Give this person the most common characteristics of your target audience. The target audience is the group of people you want to buy the company’s product, or use your app, or engage your services.
2. Put barriers in that person’s way.
Figure out what could be the biggest barriers in the person’s way. One way to do this is to think of what’s great about the product, app, or service, and the needs people have that could be fulfilled by your product, app, or service.
In your narrative, have the person encounter one or more of these big barriers. Describe how difficult the person’s life is because of these barriers.
3. Show how your company’s product, app, or service removes those barriers.
Have the person in your narrative acquire your company’s product, app, or service, and show how the person overcomes the big barriers in his or her life by using what your company provides.
4. End with the person getting what he wants and having a better life.
Wrap up your story by showing how the person gets what he or she wants, and how much better off his or her life is, all because of your company.
Start with the compelling narrative.
When you make your presentation, you start with the compelling narrative you’ve created. You might be tempted to start your presentation with our calculations and revenue numbers, i.e., facts and figures. After all, it’s evidence that matters, right? But if you’re presenting to people whose primary way of thinking isn’t facts and figures, you should start with the story that compells them to understand those facts and figures.
When you construct your narrative, follow this four-step process:
- Start with a person who has a strong want.
- Put barriers in that person’s way.
- Show how your company’s product, app, or service removes those barriers.
- End with the person getting what he wants and having a better life.
Get the budget you need, add to the profitability of the company, and support the trajectory of your career.