One comms formula to rule them all

Make the fundamentals work for you

The fundamentals matter. You can’t dunk from the foul line before you learn how to shoot layups. You can’t make a guitar sing before you know how to string together a few riffs. And you can’t get people excited about your work before you know how to talk about it in the right way.

Whether you’re writing a short email update to your boss or pitching a new idea for a business, you face the same challenge: in a world full of content and ideas, why should people pay attention to you? 

One surefire way is to make them feel something. Why not tell a little story? Here’s a simple and powerful formula that can help:

“WHY” - “WHAT” - “IMPACT”

(Once upon a time, there was an important challenge. The hero (aka you) did something to overcome it. And as a result, everyone lived happily ever.)

In a nutshell, you hook people in with a clear and compelling explanation of why you did what you did. You give a short summary of what you actually did with an emphasis on novelty. And you end with an honest and contextual look at what was achieved. 

Start with why. This is the most important part. Most people won’t know anything about your work, but that won’t matter if you can orient them toward the problem you’re solving or the goal you’re trying to achieve. If you can highlight a “why” that your audience cares about, suddenly they’ll care about your work, too. Put yourself in their shoes.

Move to what. You need much less detail here than you think. The trick is to use this section as more of a teaser. Highlight unique or unconventional things that you did. More does not mean better or more impressive. People who need the details can come to you, or you can link to a deeper dive.

End with impact. We have a natural tendency to present our work in the best possible light. But the trick is to keep this part honest and contextual. Let’s say you achieved 10% revenue growth in Q4. Sounds impressive on its own, but less so if revenue generally grows between 8-11% each quarter. Providing the context up front is what makes people comfortable spreading the word on your behalf. 

What does this look like in practice? Let’s use the formula to write a quick overview about something that’s close to home… this newsletter!

(Start with why:) Regardless of what you do for a living, you will greatly accelerate your career trajectory if you have strong communication skills. What if there were an easy and fun way to get better at it? (Move to what:) Enter The Story is the Strategy, a short, weekly newsletter with actionable tips and free one-on-one coaching from two marketing comms experts in the tech industry. (End with impact:) Our goal is to help thousands of people make real and rapid progress toward becoming noticeably better business communicators in ways that help their careers.   

Thanks for reading. Want us to reframe one of your pieces using this framework? Send it to us and we’ll help. Or come speak to us for free one-on-one coaching: Nick’s office hours and Patrick’s.