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How to master the skill of storytelling


Storytelling is practised in every country and every culture, so to say it’s important is a bit of an understatement. It is everything. Stories shape our view of the past, present and future; in marketing presentations they help us decide which brands to buy; they make us human.

Storytelling is invaluable in our working lives. It transforms ordinary communications into people-friendly communications, thereby changing the fate of a company. And good storytellers become great leaders.

Here are some tips for mastering the skill of storytelling:

Use challenge, action and transformation in storytelling

Do you remember that Yellow Pages advert from the 1980’s, the one with J.R. Hartley? Why do we still remember him after 34 years (yes, really!)? Because in under one minute, the advert told a story so perfectly. It follows the classic structure of challenge, action and transformation (someone trying to accomplish something, failing, and then eventually succeeding), and that makes us feel something.


Know that three is the magic number when planning presentations and speeches

It is believed that the brain both absorbs and remembers information more effectively when it is presented in threes. We see this Power of Three principle a lot (‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘Stop, Look and Listen’, ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’, ‘Location, Location, Location’, even in the structure of this blog post). Bear in mind that using the Power of Three in presentations and speeches makes you sound more compelling, convincing and credible (see, there it is again)!

Make people feel something when they hear your story

Good storytellers know that it’s not about convincing people or making them think something. It’s all about using emotion to make them feel something. We make decisions based on feelings, with the right side of our brain, and only later go on to justify them with the rational side of our brain. Being authentic is the best way to engender emotion. Michelle Obama’s last speech as First Lady of the United States is a great example of this. She talks directly to the young people of America about the power of hope. “Be focused, be determined, and be empowered.”


Remember that there is the opportunity for storytelling everywhere – in your speeches and business presentations, in case studies, testimonials and sales letters. A good story can demonstrate your credibility and enable people to connect with you. Don’t waste that opportunity.
Dee Clayton at Simply Amazing Training offers professional presentation skills courses and public speaking coaching for individuals and companies in Bournemouth, and across Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and London. Call me today on 01202 798128 for an informal chat to discuss your requirements.

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