November 30th, 2012
- State a problem you solved or challenge you tackled
- Describe the action you took to overcome the problem
Explain the beneficial results
A PAR story’s problem can range from an industry-wide crisis to an unproven hunch that performance could improve. The best way to explain results is to use a story to show what benefit your organization, your clients, or your customers enjoyed as a consequence of your action.
Here’s an explanation of two benefits in a simple PAR story:
Here’s the PAR model in action in that story:
- Problem: market prices were down
- Action: we invested in fuel-efficient trucks
- Results: we saw lower fuel and transportation costs as well as a healthy profit
Results are almost always more impressive when you can quantify them. Numbers such as “doubled over the last three years” or “boosted efficiency by 40 percent” help readers grasp your meaning more easily.
The PAR story above is at an organizational level. PAR stories are also very effective at the individual level — e.g., to bring a resume to life. Individual PAR stories can also be a way for an organization to explain how it will add value — for instance, to illustrate a proposal with a demonstration of one team member’s past success.
Finally, one good way to explain benefits in a PAR story is to focus on emotions:
- “Our clients felt relieved to know we had safeguarded their security.”
- “Several customers wrote to say how happy they were with the improvements.”
- “He said he was very surprised to see a vendor solve the problem so quickly.”
We’ll include PAR stories in our upcoming Financial Writing course. PAR stories are also part of our e-book on resumes and cover letters and part of the learning feedback we deliver to MBA students at the National University of Singapore and the University of California’s Haas School of Business.
Contact us to ask how we can help you use PAR stories to demonstrate the value of your team or department!