Bootstrap Leadership Blog

Good Story-Telling Involves Six Key Elements

Steve Arneson - Thursday, January 27, 2011

This week I was facilitating a leadership program that featured senior executives serving as “leaders as teachers.”  Each of the leaders told compelling stories, which made their presentations come alive and kept the participants engaged in the learning.  We all know the power of story-telling when speaking to an audience – it flat out works as a speaking technique.  To keep your story-telling skills sharp, here are some simple reminders…


A good story has the power to engage hearts and minds.  When developing your stories, remember to integrate these six key elements:


Draw on your past and lessons you've learned from it – try to tell stories that involve you, and keep it real.

2)      Make it relevant – stories that work best resonate emotionally with your audience because it's meaningful to them.

3)      Be passionate in the telling.  Bring a lot of energy to the tale, but remember – the best stories last only a minute or
      two… don’t tell a 10 minute story – you’ll lose the audience.

4)      A good story shows the struggle between your goal and the obstacles you faced in pursuing it – be humble and a
      little vulnerable – trust me, it works.

5)      Be vivid – describe the small details and draw your audience into the story.

6)      End with the lesson.  Clearly connect your story to the point you’re trying to make…


Story-telling is truly an art – and you can get better at it.  Try adding a few well-told stories to your next presentation and see if it doesn’t improve the delivery and retention of your core messages.  Good luck!


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