Telling a compelling tale

What does it take to write a compelling business story that can explain your value proposition?

That was the challenge to a group of Oxfordshire entrepreneurs who are anxious to grow their businesses, particularly after the restrictions as a result of lockdown.

Telling a story is one of the oldest and most valued pastimes, but it can still present barriers, particularly in a business context.  Presentations by entrepreneurs at the Oxfordshire Business First BIG Gig innovation events demonstrated the difficulty in explaining a complex business proposition. Storytelling is seen as one method of simplifying complex ideas and connecting with an audience persuasively.

A group of around a dozen entrepreneurs are attempting to achieve that through a storytelling group hosted by BIG Gig founders Paul Essery and Frank Nigriello.  Participants shared their first stories and revealed some of the ups and downs of learning the skill.

“You want to make it personal, but not too personal,” was one of the earliest comments from participants. Others felt their stories weren’t interesting enough. “I started writing, but it was difficult to keep the story engaging,” said another.

Some suggested they struggled with structure. “I usually write in an analytic format for reports, this was very different.” There were different formats shared including sequence that would explore a problem, an insight, the solution and the impact of that solution. Others preferred the situation/complication/resolution format made famous by the McKinsey organisation.

Regardless of the format or technique, there was a fairly unanimous agreement that the storytelling experience revealed as much about the writer as it did about the subject. “I found it cathartic to write the story,” explained one participant, while another remarked that she was surprised about how much she had learned about herself while writing her story.

The storytelling group is sponsored by Oxfordshire Business First and meets on a regular basis. For more information about the future meetings, please contact Paul Essery on

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