Storytelling for Entrepreneurs

Storytelling or a 4th of July hot dog, Big Red Car, which one?

Big Red Car here with a hankering for a 4th of July hot dog. You?

So, today, we talk about how entrepreneurs makes presentations — storytelling.

Unless you have been living under a rock [the Big Red Car is not judging y’all, it’s hot out there and living under a rock may be the right play], you have been hearing how the entrepreneurial world has discovered storytelling. Yawn! Sorry.

So, the other day The Boss is checking out a presentation on his favorite blog and the content was fabulous but the presentation — the storytelling — not so much.

Organize your presentation as a story

If you are a writer then the term “narrative hook” is not a new idea. Here is a logical way to tell a story [which means you are a “planner” rather than a “pantser”]. It is not the only way but it is a good way. It uses the language of storytelling, not pitching.

Narrative hook — The narrative hook is the instant of first impression and engagement. It is what is going to spark your audience’s interest. Whether they are going to be checking their Insta or listening to you. It begins with a great first sentence.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

OK, that one’s a little overdone but you get the idea.

“What if you could do ….. ?”

Problem/pain point — Quickly after the narrative hook, make sure the audience knows exactly what great problem is being solved or what of society’s pain points is being eliminated.

This can often be dramatized by showing a “before” and juxtaposing it with an “after.” [Extra credit for using “juxtaposing,” y’all.]

Introduction — I like to make the introduction after I have set the hook and laid out the pain point. Tell them who you are and what you’re going to tell them. This ties in with the summary whereat you are going to remind them what you told them.

Backstory/conflict — Tell the audience why this matters and from whence the demand comes. Outline who the bad guys are and the nature of the conflict.

Solution/crisis averted — Explain in detail how the problem is solved (the protagonist overcomes the conflict and the antagonist at the same time). How you and your company are the savior fo the world.

Call to action — Make a clear, deliberate call to action. This is a common failing of presentations. They get you to the finish line, all sweaty, and then leave you hanging by yourself to figure out what to do next. Close the deal. Make a call to action that gets a follow up.

Hey, what am I supposed to do now?

Tell them. Make a clear, deliberate call to action.

Summary — Tell them what you told them.

Contact — Tell the audience where to contact you and your company to act upon the call to action. Mirror the introduction.

That’s all you need to know from an organization perspective. Feel free to change the batting order, to add, to delete but know why you do everything. It is really that damn easy.


Storytelling, that easy, Big Red Car?

Yes, dear reader, it is just that easy. Let me add some quick hitters:

The slides are your chapter headings. Do not tell the story on the slides. Use the slides to guide things.


Put your logo on every slide in the upper left hand corner. Every. Freakin’. Slide. This is about getting them to recognize your brand. Please.

Start with a big logo. End with a big logo with contact info.

More white than black.

Go to the Microsoft design guidelines and use one of their color pallets (this is a purposeful typo to see if you are paying attention, are you?). They’ve spent millions developing these color palettes. Alternatively, you can hire a graphic designer to do this for you and they will go to the MS design guidelines, pick a color palette, and charge you a lot of money.

Use a big typeface that can be easily read by people with bad eyesight.

Put the entire presentation somewhere the audience can find it. Send copies to them. Put it on your website. [This seems so elemental and, yet, it is rarely done. Help them find you when they want you.]

Hand out business cards like you are getting a million dollars for each one you give out above one hundred. Put business cards where people can take one.

The presenter

Entrepreneurial storytelling dude, please dress like you are a world beating influencer. Make the audience know you are THE EXPERT. You are the trustworthy steward of the future and you are in control. You are Bond, James Bond. You are cool.

If the audience is wearing jeans, wear khakis (pleats and cuffs, ugh) and a navy blazer. Force yourself to wear a button down collar shirt and a pocket square in your blazer pocket. [Pro tip: You can go to Jos. A. Bank where you can buy one and get sixteen free. You don’t have to go to Brooks Brothers. Jos. A. Bank is fine.]

If your audience is wearing blazers, then you wear a suit with a French cuff shirt, cufflinks, an Hermes tie, and a four-point pocket square.

Dress one or two notches above the audience so you look like an authority. Dress like you are meeting your prospective mate’s parents and you already know they don’t like you.

Get a fucking haircut. It grows back. Trust me.

Shave. Brush your teeth. Wear deodorant.


You remember how cool Steve Jobs was when he was introducing a new product. Black turtleneck (no, don’t go there) and seemingly smooth as silk?

The guy used to practice like a Lippizzaner.

Lipizzaner pic

Lipizzaner in mid-flight. Horse has hops that make Lebron James look ground bound. This is you.

Time your story and use the NOTES function of PowerPoint to guide you.

How does one get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice.

Get a critique when you practice, make improvements but keep practicing.

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

Become a storyteller and don’t be a pantser (someone who does it by the seat of their dirty, skinny leg jeans). Be organized and smooth.

Look the part. Bond, James Bond.

Tell the story in a conversational tone.

Stand erect and project to the back of the room.

Tell them a great story because you have a great story to tell. Trust me.

You will keep getting better and better and better. You are that damn good. Storytelling.


Help, I’m smothering under here. Help!

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Happy 4th of July. Eat a hot dog. Thank the Founding Fathers for all the heavy lifting and beating those Brits — largest and best army and navy in the world and Geo. Washington and his ragtag army beat them. Well played, General Washington. Thank you.






5 thoughts on “Storytelling for Entrepreneurs

  1. Good stuff, BRC.

    But usually there is more than one way to skin a cat (horrible thought — I like cats!).

    An alternative: Pick a business that can make you wealthy and that you can bring to nice profitability with just your own labor and own checkbook. Do that.

    Part of that will likely be to get some publicity, from a little to a lot, for your business. Then, from that publicity, eventually the venture firms will notice your company.

    There they will want to see that the business is profitable, growing rapidly, is serving a potentially huge market, and has good ways to beat existing or future competition. By “huge”, the business stands to be worth $100+ million although $100+ billion is more like it.

    Don’t call them. Wait for them to call you.

    But, realize that early on, they never saw any potential in your business. Moreover, they still don’t understand your business. And they never really will understand your business. Sure, they might understand a front yard, neighborhood lemonade stand, but that won’t be worth $100+ billion. A genuinely new business, they won’t understand.

    So, if you take equity funding from them, then, unless you have some darned good lawyers on your side and the equity investors are desperate to invest, your business will become a Delaware C-corp, with a BoD, with equity investors on the Board, with you as founding CEO reporting to the Board, where the Board doesn’t understand your business, where some or all of the Board members have financial interests and maybe even fiduciary responsibilities that conflict with your financial interests and those of your business, where the day before you take their money you own 100% of the business and as soon as you sign you suddenly own 0% of your business with some chance of getting back to maybe 40% over a four year vesting schedule during which time the Board can fire you and keep your stock not vested and put you in a bad situation for your vested stock, all for any reason or no reason. In principle, they day after you sign, they can kick you out with nothing and take all your company, its intellectual property, the company bank account, etc.

    Lots of successful businesses never took equity funding. Just why would you want to take equity funding?

  2. Valet guy here BRC-

    Not sure what the boss( a fine and wise elder) was thinking smothering you under that cover. I’ll take you out for a drive…. Dont worry I brought my spittoon with me so I won’t piss off the boss by letting my chawski dribble out over my front lip and stain the seats.

    Ohhhh baby great ride you are BRC a classic!! I’ll cover you back up now so the boss doesn’t find out about our joyride.

    It’s a high here of about 107F today, it will be a delicious dog and burger tomorrow.

Comments are closed.