Richard Fouts

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By using a simple storytelling model, you can create more engaging business communications.

Use Storytelling to Create More Engaging Business Communications

Would your customers prefer “death by PowerPoint” or an interesting story of how you helped an online retailer double their revenues? If the latter, take a hint from Anton Chekhov, the son of a grocer who helped support his family by writing humorous sketches.

One of Chekhov’s more famous quotes was “Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out”. His simple philosophies come through in his stories, which were not noted for their intricate plots. Rather, Chekhov found emotion and drama in ordinary, everyday events.

As business communicators, we’re not looking for the intricate plot either. Our job is to communicate how our companies solve ordinary, everyday business problems. You can easily adapt Chekhov’s three part storytelling model to tell more engaging stories about you or your company.

How Does Chekhov’s Model Work?
First, Anton tees up a messy situation. Second, he describes the impact the situation is having on his characters – then delights us with an ending.

Years ago, while deep in his third volume of short stories, I tried adapting his approach for marketing and business communications. Not only did it work – it has never failed me.

Just answer three simple questions:

  • What situation are your customers facing?
  • What impact is the situation having on their business?
  • What’s your resolution?
Some people remember this technique by its abbreviation: SIR (situation, impact, resolution).

Here are a couple of examples:
(Situation) A software company needs to launch a new product by June. Otherwise, a window of opportunity to edge ahead of competitiors will be lost (Impact). Widpro develops new products in half the time without compromising quality (Resolution).

Or combine the situation and impact.

The City of New York needed to reduce the cost of its IT operations by 20 percent (situation) so it could fund its pay raises (impact). Outsourcing reduced costs while simultaneously improving service quality.

When to Use Storytelling
This storytelling model is especially good for customer success stories, sales proposals and brochures. But it works in virutally any type of communication, even those you have with your kids.

The next time you brief your boss about something, briefy describe your situation and its impact. Summarize with your recommendation. Your conversations will be more brief, more clear. And, you’ll find yourself getting what you want.

What happened to Chekhov? Chekhov’s short story The Steppe, won the Pushkin Prize in 1888. His first play, Ivanov had little success, but The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard all successful, are still produced in regional theaters to this day, all over the world. In his spare time, Chekhov ran a free clinic for peasants, took part in famine and epidemic relief, and was a volunteer census-taker.

Richard Fouts helps you tell your story. Using his techniques, your entire organization becomes rapidly equipped to engage in conversations about your products and services in more intimate ways. You spend less time developing your communications and more time acquiring and satisfying customers.

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