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Monroe’s Motivated Storytelling Sequence: The Secret to Winning Thought Leadership

Are you facing any of these challenges in Thought Leadership?

  • Developing topics
  • Maintaining authority over time
  • Building a loyal audience

You’d probably say a combination of them – and then some.

These are good worries because it shows that you are on the right track to develop successful thought leadership. Should you not give enough deliberation to them, it’s highly like you’ll end up with a good content marketing piece and miss an excellent thought leadership opportunity.

The reality is pretty stark, too: 48% of decision-makers spend at least an hour consuming thought leadership content each week, but only 29% say they gain valuable insight at least half of the time.

Thought leadership is much more like public speaking than writing.

If journalism and public speaking had a baby, it would be probably look like thought leadership.

Successful public speakers all have one thing in common: They’re all successful storytellers distinctly. They’re not necessarily narrative storytellers. Instead, they follow Monroe’s Motivated Storytelling Sequence to empower their audience.

Research the most successful thought leaders, and you’ll find they follow the same strategy.

How to Apply Monroe’s Motivated Storytelling Sequence in Thought Leadership

MMSS is a five-step process:

  • Grab the audience’s attention.
  • Tap into a specific need among the audience.
  • Offer a solution to satisfy the need.
  • Craft a scenario to help the audience visualize the effects or consequences.
  • End with an inspirational call to action.

This process is successful because it puts the power in the hands of your audience. It’s not armchair theory. MMSS lets you use your platform and expertise to inspire others.

This alone is huge for building your credibility. When you follow MMSS correctly, you’re not saying, “I’m the only one with all the answers.” You’re helping people find the solutions within themselves with your expert guidance.

1. Grab Attention

Did you notice how I opened this article? I used a relatable question and ran through your potential thought process. This was my effort to grab and hold your attention within the first few words. If you’re reading this now, it worked.

It’s not always easy to get people interested in your content. Start by watching videos of your favourite writers or ideologues speaking in public. How do they grab attention right away?

Watch speeches and read writing from other thought leaders in your industry as well. Look at things through this analytical lens. Don’t copy. Mirror their enthusiasm.

Some people can make the most boring topics interesting. Follow these people and learn from them.

2. Tap into an Audience Need

Once you have their attention, you must tap into a specific pain point or issue that directly relates to your audience.

The best way to do this is by following the same channels your audience follows. Subreddits, Quora, Facebook groups, memes, Twitter accounts, events, Discord – don’t count anything out. Every platform gives you vital insight into the realities of life for your audience.

Reading blogs only gives you a sanitized and often whitewashed account of today’s problems.

Sponsoring your original research can help you tap into emerging problems among your audience that competing thought leaders don’t even have on their radar. You’ll be offering solutions before your industry’s other leaders have even identified the existence of a joint problem.

Stay focused, too: Make sure you concentrate on a single need in every piece of thought leadership content.

3. Satisfy the Need with a Solution

Follow up the problem with a solution.

Here’s where your thought leadership comes into play because you’re not just identifying a problem and regurgitating best practices. You’re offering some nuance and the expertise you’ve developed over the years.

Your original research is instrumental at this point, as well. When thought leaders don’t know which solutions their audience has already tried, they come across as detached and insincere.

Original research can also direct you to which solutions your audience isn’t interested in trying or might need some coaxing to warm up. All of this helps you develop your distinct thought leader voice as well.

4. Visualize the Consequences

Take the word to visualize literally here to show your audience how your solution will work in action. You might not have all the answers to every problem today, but you can still show people why you believe what you do through this step.

Put your original research into digestible and interactive charts and graphs. Include testimonials from colleagues or clients who followed your solution. Ask other thought leaders or subject matter experts about your solution and include their quotes in your piece. Run a case study to support your beliefs.

5. Call the Audience to Action

Your CTA will vary widely based on the audience’s stage of awareness and the specific problem in question. However, your CTA should always follow two major rules:

  • Your ending must always be memorable and resonate with your audience.
  • It should never be promotional or mention your brand. That’s content marketing.

Ideally, your ending should leave your audience compelled to take action because you’ve empowered them with your knowledge and solutions.

Develop the Skill of Storytelling

It takes time to master MMSS – and public speaking or thought leadership, for that matter. Very few people were born as charismatic thought leaders, and frankly, most of those folks aren’t the most down to earth. Dedicate time to building MMSS as you would any other skill, and it will eventually become second nature.

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