How To Tell Powerful Strategic Stories Like Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a visionary entrepreneur. While Musk isn't the most polished speaker in the world – he tells powerful strategic stories with passion and authenticity.Listening to Musk talking about Tesla Motors or Powerwall, Tesla home battery, we’re grabbed by the stories he tells. He begins by...

Written By : on July 13, 2016

Elon Musk is a visionary entrepreneur. While Musk isn’t the most polished speaker in the world – he tells powerful strategic stories with passion and authenticity.Listening to Musk talking about Tesla Motors or Powerwall, Tesla home battery, we’re grabbed by the stories he tells. He begins by identifying the problem as he sees it. He tells us what he believes will happen if the status quo is maintained. We’re floundering in the darkness of the bleak future.But then, Musk shows us the light at the end of the tunnel.

Elon Musk is a visionary entrepreneur. While Musk isn’t the most polished speaker in the world – he tells powerful strategic stories with passion and authenticity.

Listening to Musk talking about Tesla Motors or Powerwall, Tesla home battery, we’re grabbed by the stories he tells.   He begins by identifying the problem as he sees it.  He tells us what he believes will happen if the status quo is maintained.  We take a sharp intake of breath as we contemplate a bleak future if things don’t change.

But then, Musk shows us the light at the end of the tunnel.

He fills us with hope.  We’re shown his vision for a brighter tomorrow.  Musk is creating a new future.  We’re hooked. We want to know more about how and what and when and where.

With us listeners now intent, Musk takes us into a world in which we drive electric cars and harness solar power in a way we never believed was possible.

Does your strategic plan inspire people like that? Most don’t.

But imagine standing in front of an audience and captivating them with your strategic story.  People leave your talk inspired and moved to take action.  Isn’t that what every great leader wants?

You can tell strategic stories like Elon Musk too.

Here’s what I’ve discovered, having spent close to 30 years creating, reviewing and listening to people articulate strategic plans;

Most strategic plans simply don’t connect with people.

Sometimes these plans are called stories but they lack the core elements of a great story.  People often talk about a golden thread running through the strategic plan so that the flow is logical.  While it makes sense to have a logical flow, and not meander, that metaphorical golden thread doesn’t turn your strategic plan into a story.

Often, people create a ten slide summary from a ninety slide tome that makes up the full strategic plan.  But, that’s not a story either.  Short slide decks with financial highlights, snappy mission statements and two-by-two models is not how Elon Musk and other visionary entrepreneurs tell strategic stories.

How does Elon Musk captivate his audience?

  1. Identifies a real problem that people care passionately about.
  2. Talks about a world where the problem doesn’t get solved in a way that makes us gasp.
  3. Paints a crystal clear picture of a brighter future that inspires his audience.
  4. Tells us why he’s creating that future and grabs our attention and fills us with hope.
  5. Once we’re hooked by hope and open to hearing the way forward, Musk takes us on a journey to the promised land.
  6. We’re shown Tesla’s tangible solutions so that we can visualize a different world in our minds eye.
  7. Talks in a way we can grasp easily and avoids lofty, meaningless language.
  8. Tells us a strategic story we can experience for ourselves – through our senses – we hear it, we see it and crucially – we feel it.

A great test for the power of a strategic plan is to ask – can it be told as a simple story?

If you’d like to turn your strategic plan into an inspiring story that moves people, get in touch we’d love to talk with you!

Author:

Claire Taylor is co-founder of The Story Mill – a business that creates innovative programmes to support organisations to make their brands more human and foster a culture of authenticity and innovation. We run engaging storytelling workshops including: Storytelling in Leadership, Influencing, Branding, Strategy, Culture and Innovation.Claire is a Corporate Storyteller, Coach, Consultant, Trainer and Author of The Tao of Storytelling.

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