How To Create & Tell The Best Stories?

communication public speaking storytelling

 

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”Steve Jobs

 

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my 22 + years of being on stage as a performing artist and keynote speaker is this: stories can change lives.

 

Stories make people cry, laugh, cheer, think, and most importantly, experience something that transforms their lives.

 

This is the reason why many years ago I’ve made the commitment to not only become a great storyteller but help others do the same.

 

If you want to know the number one secret to inspire people to feel something, both in life and business, look no further. It is through storytelling that you can lead people to take action and change. 


In this podcast episode, you'll learn:

  • What makes for a great story structure

  • What elements need to be included

  • And how to use stories to connect your audience and your brand

 

 

 

 

What types of stories should you be telling inside your brand and sharing with your audience?


I vividly remember the very first time I saw John Maxwell speak on a live stage. I was mesmerized. What a masterful speaker!

 

He had the audience hanging on every word he said. One moment you could hear the large auditorium erupting in laughter while a few minutes later people were reaching for their tissues to wipe their tears away. 

 

The 90-minute speech felt like it was but 5 minutes. It literally felt like we just went on the best adventure together. 

 

Later on when I joined John Maxwell’s mentorship program, one of the leading speaker trainers during one of our training sessions dissected John’s speech, like how much preparation and intentionality went into John’s presentation.

 

I was in awe and also shocked to find out that the entire presentation consisted of 80% stories and only 20% actual teaching (stats and facts).

 

If you want to have people hang on every word you say make sure to share stories that are funny, happy, or suspenseful to create high levels of dopamine and endorphins, and also include sad or somber stories to create high levels of oxytocin. 

 

When you include both it will keep your audience on the edge of their seat.

 

 

The 6 stages of your story


  1. Setting the scene
  2. Unexpected turn 
  3. Complications
  4. Fork in the road
  5. Peak point
  6. Resolution/Transformation

 

But before we actually look at each of these a bit closer - I want to make sure that the very first thing you want to make sure the beginning of your story has is something called a HOOK.

 

Stephen King says that an opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say:

 

"Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this."

 

In my many years of public speaking, I’ve delivered a lot of speeches. Most of the time I start my keynotes with a story but even if not, I always make sure that the first line or phrase of my speech is shocking or at least intriguing. 

 

The way I know that it actually worked is by the silence that immediately occurs in the room and the widening of the eyes as people stare at me in surprise.

 

There is particularly the opening line of one speech that really gets people hooked. One of my presentations starts out with the opening line:

 

“On September 16, 1996, I found myself in a pool of blood.”

 

Immediately, the room becomes so silent you can hear the drop of a pin. And from the expression on people’s face, I can tell that they want to know what happened. They are thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’ve got to find out what happened next.”.

 

 

We want to grab people’s attention at the very beginning of any speech. May that be a keynote, a live Instagram video, a podcast, or any other pitch. Why?

 

Research tells us that the attention span of the average person is 8 seconds. Yes, you’ve only got 8 seconds to convince people you have something worth hearing about before they zone out, tune out or check out. 

 

Now, more than ever, our attention is at a premium. People are busy, easily distracted, short on time, with their noses buried in their phones. 

 

Alright, let's dive into what makes your story engaging.

 

Step 1: Setting the scene


This is basically where you are setting up the story. This is where you want to introduce the who, what, why, and where.

 

Who is the main character?

What do they want?

Why do they want it?

Where does the story take place?

 

If you miss this point your audience has no point of reference and will be lost from the very beginning so this is important.

 

 

Step 2: Unexpected turn


This is the part of your story where you take the ordinary character and their ordinary day and turn things upside down. 

 

Or maybe you take away something that the character most wants or perhaps you give it to them. 

 

The point is that the unexpected turn of events takes the main character's passion and uses it to write the narrative of the story. When this is done right the audience will feel sympathetic toward the main character and will want to see how the character will change, adapt to this new unexpected situation. 

 

This is where the story gradually starts to get really interesting. 



Step 3: Complications


This is exactly what it sounds like.

 

Just when people think that things can’t get any worse is when you want to show them in stages that it actually can and it did. 

 

Because it is through these progressive complications is when you are really able to keep your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.

 

So from a pure entertainment perspective, you want to ramp up this process from a level one to ten to keep them interested. 



Step 4: Fork in the road


The place where the main character must choose to act on the lessons learned throughout the story. 

 

Will the character stay the same broken person they were at the beginning or will they choose to change? 

 

Will they choose to let their situation define them or will they overcome and conquer and adapt coming out better and stronger on the other side?

 

Step 5: Peak Point


This is the part of the story where we get to see our newly changed character face and defeat their enemy or demons. The villain.

 

And yes, a situation can be a villain. Doesn’t necessarily have to be an actual person.

 

 

Step 6: Resolution


This final step is basically like the tail end of an exciting roller coaster ride. The ride has come full circle and is now gliding into the station, or making a landing. 

 

This is where the audience’s heart rate can start coming down. During the whole ride before, hearts are beating fast.

 

We feel exhilarated. 

 

The resolutions should tie up any loose ends so that the audience isn’t left with questions or wondering how the story ends. 

 

Our brain doesn’t like open story loops so this is the time to close that loop in people’s minds. 

 

This step right here also helps people make the transition to the fact that the story is ending much smoother.

 

A good resolution leaves the audience feeling happy and satisfied with the end of the story, even if it’s a sad one.

 

RECAP


The 6 stages of storytelling create a great story structure for your speech, podcast episode, or even your Instagram posts. This allows you to connect with your audience and, allow them to engage as well, with every bit of word you serve them.

Remember to:

  1. set the scene
  2. bring them to an unexpected turn
  3. provide complications
  4. show them a fork in the road
  5. the peak point
  6. and lastly, the resolution or transformation of your character in the story

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