Stories aren’t bound by genre.
You can find storytelling in some unlikely places, like well-written advertisements, relatable marketing campaigns, product descriptions, and more.
Even when you’re outside the pages of a novel, stories carry weight and influence. While storytelling benefits nearly all forms of communication, it’s especially advantageous for areas you wouldn’t think could take creative license.
Storytelling in technical fields, like personal finance, can transform the perception and application of that industry. Like a page-turning series, stories get people in the door, keep them engaged, and encourage them to keep learning more.
Technical topics become more accessible and enjoyable when you turn them into stories. Even though it may seem complicated, doing so is 100% achievable—but it will take creativity and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone!
Today, we’ll walk you through how to tell a memorable and engaging story with a technical topic.
Focus On The Big Picture
Think about the books you read as a child. They often had catchy titles, lovely artwork, and simple sentences. But that didn’t make the meaning or impact any smaller.
Those little picture books taught giant life lessons like trying new things, not taking things for granted, loss, love, friendship, and the power of imagination, all in a simple, condensed package.
Your content can do the same.
Try to think about creating technical content that reads like a children’s book: simple language, short paragraphs, relatable scenarios, rich images, media, etc.
You don’t have to write a confusing IRS-level manifesto about taxes to teach your clients about the value of tax planning. Instead, you can make it more applicable to their life and show them how specific strategies could benefit them in the long term. Maybe you dive into a piece about tax-loss harvesting, strategically realizing gains, or appropriate timing for a significant purchase.
When faced with a technical topic and a picky audience, focus on a couple of essential elements about a subject and explore them a little further instead of overwhelming them with pages and pages of numbers and jargon they won’t remember five minutes later.
One of the best things to do when writing technical pieces is to keep the big picture in mind. Before you start writing, use these questions to help you construct an outline.
- What’s the goal of the piece?
- What do you want your readers to remember?
- How can you narrow your scope to maximize your impact?
If you keep these three things in mind, your technical content will shimmer!
The best and most memorable stories are the simplest. There’s a clear mission, obstacle, characters, stakes, etc. So when you approach a technical topic, do your best to make it as straightforward as possible.
To start, break your idea down into the following story-based sections.
- Central Idea/Mission: What’s the topic?
- Characters: Who is this piece for or about?
- Stakes: What does your audience stand to gain or lose from this information?
- Guide: What unique insights can you bring to the table?
- Lesson: What do you hope your audience does after reading your story? Why should your audience be excited to learn more about this topic?
- All great stories have a clear narrative arch and demonstrate opportunities for growth, so apply those fundamentals to your technical content.
Say you’re writing a piece about holding too much company stock. Before you bombard your audience with confusing acronyms, run your content through the questions above. Here’s an example.
- Mission: Understanding why having too much company stock can hurt you in the long run—no matter how successful the company is right now.
- Characters: A person whose net worth is deeply intertwined with their company’s stock.
- Stakes: The ability to have enough cash flow to reach their goals. Maintaining a diversified portfolio that isn’t too risky.
- Guide: How you’ve helped other people intentionally diversify and make the most out of their equity.
- Lesson: Equity compensation is a powerful tool. When you know how it fits into your plan, you can make decisions that will benefit you in the short and long term.
Wow, just like that, you have a great outline that’s exciting and easy to understand! Let’s take a look at a few other ways simplicity will be your best friend during storytelling.
Keep The Language Clear
Yeah, big words are fun, and they may make you feel super smart and accomplished. But remember, your content isn’t about massaging your ego; it’s about educating and empowering your audience.
So, leave the $10 words at home, especially when explaining a complex topic.
Presenting ideas and concepts simply won’t dull your prose or make you appear less professional. Actually, it can have the opposite effect and make you sound more like a human.
You’ve likely run across the phrase “explain it to me like I’m five.” This exercise forces you to take your complex knowledge and translate it into a simple, relatable explanation that anyone could understand.
Here’s the truth: it’s easier to complicate things and harder to simplify them.
Your audience and your story will benefit from simplicity. Think about a story you read, a show you watched, or a podcast you listened to that tried to accomplish too much. That experience may have left you unsatisfied because you felt like to cover everything, you learned nothing.
You don’t want your audience to have that experience after reading a technical blog. Instead, you want them to walk away with the following,
- New knowledge on a topic they didn’t know much about
- A fresh perspective on an important topic
- Different applications for implementing that idea into their life
- Interest in learning more about that focus area
- Questions about that topic or idea
When you keep things simple, your audience is more likely to stay engaged.
Avoid Confusing Jargon
As with many specialized industries, finance is filled with technical jargon that can get really confusing for readers.
So, ditch it.
Generally, you don’t need to use jargon to get your point across. Thinking about new ways to express an idea can also help you be more creative and find better ways to connect your audience with the material.
Instead of saying, “remain conscious of your mortgage loan amortization.” Ugh, then your audience would likely have to pull up Google and type in “what’s amortization” before jumping back into your piece (if they come back at all).
You could say something like,” do you know how much of your mortgage payments go toward interest or the principle? What about how long it will take you to pay it off? Knowing your loan schedule can help you better understand your debt and open up various strategies like paying more toward the principal in early years or refinancing opportunities.”
Ahh, much better!
While it’s best to avoid jargon, sometimes, it’s unavoidable. If that’s the case, do your best to be hyper-clear from the start and define the terms you’re going to use before casually throwing them into a sentence.
Perhaps you include a section at the beginning of the piece to define key terms. Don’t be afraid to remind your readers what some specialized terminology means throughout the article. Even if you explained the “spread” at first, you might want to quickly remind readers what it means once you put it into context 1,000 words later.
The Art Of Knowing When To Stop
When you’re an expert on a topic, you might think that the best way to communicate an idea is to fill it with all of your knowledge and expertise.
But that instinct isn’t always correct.
You want your content to follow a clear, cohesive message. If you offer too many “what if” tidbits, you may muddle your main point and confuse your audience. That’s why an outline is so helpful during the writing process; it guides you through the piece and keeps you on track.
If you think your piece is still unclear, even with an outline, that’s where editing comes into play. Just because you wrote something that sounds amazing doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for your current assignment.
But don’t delete something great! You can move it to a notes folder and let it be a springboard for another piece.
Share Something Personal
You can make a technical topic relatable with one simple step: tell a personal story.
We always encourage you to be personal with your content because it makes your readers feel like they know you. That personal connection is key to an active audience, quality leads, and generous referrals.
How can you infuse your personality into a technical topic? Here are some ideas to consider.
- Reveal a personal anecdote that represents your topic and weave it all the way through your piece, from the introduction to the conclusion.
- Add your thoughts, ideas, and commentary to each post. Say you’re writing about active vs. passive investing. Why do you believe in one over the other? How does your philosophy positively impact your readers? Your audience is reading your stuff to get your unique point of view. If they wanted a generic take, they could find that anywhere else on the internet.
- Create a branded infographic, chart, or other visual tools to illustrate your point. Including media in blog posts is excellent for readability and SEO. You can make it personal by using specific language, brand colors, and more.
- Tell your audience a story about your experience with whatever topic you’re discussing. This might be something you found interesting, surprising, or exciting. You could also talk about how the subject has influenced your life. For example, if you’re writing about budgeting, maybe you let your readers take a peek at your family budget, the struggles you’ve faced along the way, and how you stick with it.
If you commit to incorporating even one of those ideas into your next blog, you may be surprised by how engaging and exciting the piece becomes.
Write A Compelling Case Study
If you want your technical topic to brim with meaning and value, write a case study.
Case studies are fictionalized accounts you can use to illustrate a concept or idea. Let’s try one.
Say you’re writing a piece about the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program changes. Amid all the facts and data, you decide to interject with a compelling story about how you helped a client through the process. Highlighting a success story can bring more meaning to the piece. Remember, if you use client interactions, be sure to keep things compliant and scrub the material of any identifying attributes.
You can also completely fictionalize a scenario to demonstrate a point or flesh out an idea. This tactic can be super helpful in complex estate planning pieces and other financial pieces that combine personal and technical elements.
Next time, try it out and see what you (and your readers) think!
Give Your Readers A Clear “Why”
Throughout your technical piece, it can be easy to forget why you’re writing it in the first place. Maintaining the “why” at the center of your article will make it more intentional and keep your reader focused.
- Why are you writing this piece?
- Why should your readers care about the information?
- Why is it important for your brand and audience?
If your piece can successfully answer all of these questions, you’ll have a technical topic that still sings.
After reading this piece, you might be thinking that applying storytelling to technical topics is not as easy as it looks. And you’d be right. So why go through all the effort?
Because stories work.
Several studies link storytelling to learning. One Stanford study concluded that people remember stories 22% more than facts alone. Other researchers cite profound connections between storytelling and memory. When you learn something via a story, you’re more likely to remember the information over a longer period. Stories are good for our brains, and they are powerful tools to connect people.
There’s no getting around it: stories are a medium for influence, and brands that can effectively harness the power of storytelling are more likely to attract, engage, and nurture an ideal audience.
Storytelling is our specialty. We love helping business owners use the tenets of a powerful story to connect with their ideal clients and build authentic, honest brands. Reach out to us today to learn more about how storytelling can transform your business.