Having a story framework to start from can make the thinking easier.

The hardest part of crafting thought leadership is capturing both the voice and high-level insights of the leader you’re collaborating with. When you’re ghostwriting for someone else, you’re interpreting their expertise, experience and personality and translating it onto the page.

One way to make this process a bit easier is to start with a thought leadership framework. Simply knowing the kind of story you want to tell can ease the whole process and make the thoughts flow.  

Rhea Wessel, founder of The Institute for Thought Leadership, shared some easy story forms during her presentation “Thought Leadership Success: How to Become a SME Whisperer” at Ragan’s Writing & Content Strategy Virtual Conference. Here are a few ideas to get your creativity going and your thoughts flowing. 

  • Predictions: What’s your take on the future? How do you think a hot new trend will unfold? Help people peer into the crystal ball. These can be especially powerful toward the end of the year, forecasting into the next.  
  • “Explore-the-solution” stories: There’s a problem. What are some ways we can solve it? What are the pros and cons? Everyone loves someone who helps fix something that’s broken. Here’s your chance.  
  • “Understand-the-problem” stories: Maybe there isn’t a solution quite yet. Maybe we’re still trying to get our arms around what the real challenge is. Go deep and help look at the problem from all angles so readers walk away with a deeper understanding of the issues at play.  
  • “Reasons-why” stories: A spin-off of either problem or solutions-oriented stories, simply explain why. Why are things the way they are? Why is something a good idea or a bad idea? Push past the high-level and get into the nitty gritty explanations.  
  • “What-if” stories: Take a hypothetical and spin it into a possibility.  
  • Opinion pieces: This can be one of the trickier pieces to pull off for thought leadership, but with close consultation with your executive, you can help them smartly and strategically take a stand on a pertinent issue that positions them as a thoughtful, measured leader.  
  • Personal impact stories: Whether an issue impacts your executive directly or a key stakeholder, putting a human face to a situation is always a smart move. Take the chance to do a proper interview and tug at heartstrings.  
  • “Best practices” stories: Everyone wants to do their job better. As a thought leader, your exec should have deep expertise that they can share. Even if your target audience won’t be doing exactly what your principal advises, this is your chance to show off their knowledge — and help them gain clients and speaking gigs or attain other goals. 

What’s your favorite story form for thought leadership? Watch Wessel’s full presentation below. 


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