How to Tell a Story

StorytellerEveryone has tips on how to tell a story. Advice ranges from ensuring your story has an arc, including engaging details, making it personal, and practicing your delivery in the case of elevator pitches. Much of this guidance is helpful but never really gets at the heart of telling a story. So then the question remains: how do you tell a story?

I’ve been told a million stories over the years. As a reporter I was pitched time and again by everyone from neighbors to CEOs. As a communications professional my clients or colleagues regaled me with stories of new products and programs that were always “changing the landscape” of whatever mission we were working on at the time. Many of these tales never went further than my ears.

So what does get attention? Or better yet, what deserves attention? What rises to the ranks of newsworthy or makes me pause and ask, “Tell me more?”

I’m only going to say this once so listen up: have something to thoughtful to say. It’s that simple. Add to the conversation. Don’t sell. Think about why you listen to stories that are told to you out of the blue. These are all different ways of saying that you need something worthwhile to share. Just stating that your product is new or different will never make anyone care deeply enough that they listen to you for more than a minute and politely nod at your occasional breaks in delivery.

So the next time you plan to tell someone about yourself, your work, or your children/pets/products/car/phone/app/book/movie/show, please be sure it will add something to their lives. It’s time that they will use to either learn to like you or not, so don’t waste it. After that, everything else from the arc to the personal and engaging details will fall into place.


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