John Yorke, Nick PArker, Story for Business, narrative in business, content marketing online course, Into the Woods, John Yorke Story


With more and more media competing for our attention, businesses that can tell compelling stories about themselves have a huge advantage over their competitors. 

But turning the information about a business, brand or product into a story that grips people from beginning to middle to end is challenging. 

Story for Business makes it easy and straightforward by showing you the basic rules all professional storytellers use.

During this seven-week course, you’ll experiment with different story-structure techniques to develop your skills. You’ll learn how to apply the techniques to your own business, and by the end you’ll able to craft a story to grab and hold people’s attention. You’ll also understand why some stories engage people while others fail. And you’ll apply the principles to everything from letter-writing and presentations to brand strategy and market research.

Story for Business is the only course based on real-life examples from the worlds of business and entertainment, devised and taught by people with track records in creating some of the world’s most popular stories.

The course will give you not just a new skill, but a thorough understanding of why the shape of stories is hardwired into our brains, and how you can use this knowledge to transform your business and marketing communications. 

John and your tutor are on-hand throughout to answer questions, feedback on your assignments, and critique your business stories at the end of the course.

This is a professional development course and so you may be able to get funding from your employer to do it. All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.

Developed by John Yorke in collaboration with brand and business writer Nick Parker.

Course Director John Yorke

Course Tutor Richard Benson

Course Moderator Emily Ronan


Many businesses think they’re telling stories when they’re not. It’s important to understand what the elements of story are and use them properly. Otherwise it’s like forgetting to put a call to action in a marketing campaign.

Nick Parker

Brand and business writer

We all use story all the time. The more you identify with the protagonist, and the more you loathe the baddie, the more powerful your story is going to be. You see that everywhere from a business memo to an advert.

John Yorke

Course Director


Start date: 5 October 2020
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Session length: Weekly
Sessions: 6

Price: £1,200 (inc. VAT where applicable)



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screenskills funding bursary opportunities

This course has been made possible by the support of Screenskills, and has been approved as part of an informal or formal continuing professional development (CPD) programme.

You may be eligible for a training bursary of up to £1000 for this course. Apply direct to ScreenSkills here, at least FOUR WEEKS before the course start date. 

We’ve developed Story for Business for individuals and organisations looking to develop a practical understanding of the mechanics of effective storytelling, and how to use it in business.

It’s for anyone who needs to communicate as part of their job. From brand and marketing communicators, internal and external communications teams, HR teams, and anyone who needs to write briefs and case studies. You don’t need any previous experience and you can take the course for personal or formal professional development.

We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual or you can block-book a dedicated class exclusively for your team.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Are a novice storyteller and want to learn how stories work and how to plan and structure narratives
  • Are a seasoned professional and want to refresh your skills, learn new ones and improve your knowledge of how stories work, and how to apply this to your work
  • Are developing online content for businesses, charities and other organisations and want to understand how to use stories
  • Want to learn how to select, develop and realise your ideas
  • Are keen to master five-act story structure
  • Would like to see the underlying framework behind all stories everywhere
  • Need to discover why your business stories aren’t working — and how to fix them
  • Want to gain the confidence to create your own brand or business stories
  • Are looking for a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course


Over seven weeks, you’ll learn the building blocks you need to create a compelling narrative for business and brands, and all the essentials you need to fix broken stories and create original material.

We’ll look in detail at the act structure of stories, protagonists and antagonists, inciting incidents, climaxes and resolutions. We’ll also look at the big things they can teach us to apply to business communication. You’ll work within a supportive community keen to share their experiences with you.

Session 1: The shape of all stories
We’ll introduce you to the core shape all stories take, viewing short clips and examples from film, TV and the business world. We’ll look at the elements all great stories have in common, whether it’s cinema classics like Jaws, or the founder’s tale of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. This session is also about getting to know the other participants in your group.
Session 2: Finding your heroes and villains
We’ll examine what makes us identify with key characters — and how these apply to business stories. Is your business the protagonist of your story? Or is it your product or your customer? How do your heroes and villains travel through your stories? You’ll learn to précis the essence of a story into a single sentence or doodle.



Your tutor will answer your questions in a live Q&A session.

Session 3: Getting the best out of conflict
All great stories have at their heart a conflict to resolve, an obstacle to overcome, or a villain to vanquish. We’ll look at how to identify the conflict in business stories and at moments of drama and crisis — and how to deal with the urge in business to pretend that everything’s positive and there are never any challenges! You’ll learn the 10 failsafe questions to ask every story to make sure it’s working as effectively as it could. You’ll find examples from your own line of work to pick apart and rework.
Session 4: Keeping your audience on the edge of their seats
We’ll look at the techniques great storytellers use to shape stories, including creating unbearable suspense and can’t-look-but-can’t-look-away tension, and how you can use these superpowers in your own work. By the end of this session you should also be able to create a perfectly constructed story.

At the end of this session John Yorke and Nick Parker will take your questions on using stories in business.

Session 5: How to avoid telling bad stories
We’ll look at key story archetypes most often used in business and some of the common pitfalls that business stories fall into — including the ‘there’s no conflict here!’ problem, and the ‘we want to be a blockbuster, but we’re more like a soap opera’ dilemma.
Session 6: Putting it into action
You’ll apply the techniques you’ve learned to some work relevant to your professional role, and assess it against John’s master list of storytelling tips. At the end of the course you’ll submit your real-world business stories for feedback from your tutors. This might involve bringing to life an abstract concept from your business, rewriting or picking apart stories you’ve worked on before, storyboarding new stories or analysing the founding stories of key businesses.

You may also request a CPD certification of completion at the end of the course.

We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts from John Yorke and Nick Parker
  • Short videos from John Yorke and/or other industry experts
  • Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and viewing lists devised by John Yorke and Nick Parker
  • Practical exercises and prompts, devised by John and Nick to help you experiment and practise your skills
  • Guest lectures from industry experts
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • Live chatroom sessions with your group and tutor to give you the opportunity to ask questions
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Tutor feedback on your two business stories at the end of the course

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • Access to the following films on DVD or via streaming sites:
    • Jaws, Cars, Inside Out and Steve Jobs
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free
    • Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within our online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guests here

Mentoring and one-to-one feedback

The John Yorke Story tutor team offer mentoring, script reads and reports. We are happy to quote by job or script, or to arrange a longer mentoring scheme as you work on a specific story idea. We’ll create a package to suit you, so for more information please email

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another John Yorke Story or Professional Writing Academy course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

Watch John Yorke and Nick Parker discuss why businesses need stories and how they should use them

Price: £1,200 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Price: £50

Ask Us Anything


While it’s simple enough to recognise a successful business story, I’ve realised it’s another thing entirely to pinpoint the reasons for its success and understand how to recreate that in your work.


So many business briefs can be unambitious, and would benefit from being challenged. This course gives a good framework for making those challenges. The course also made me aware that there’s now a whole thing called brand storytelling that often isn’t storytelling at all.


I had never thought about my pitches in terms of story elements, story structure – I’ve always just done them on instinct and judged them on whether they read well. So I’m finding this course hugely illuminating and it’s already causing me to think differently.


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