Storytelling 101

So you want to tell a story as part of a presentation. Great, but some ways of telling a story are better than others. JD Schramm has a few ideas on how to do it right:

Parachute in, don’t preamble. The best storytellers draw us immediately into the action. They capture our attention and set the tone for a unique audience experience. Avoid opening with “I’d like to tell you a story about a time when I learned…” Instead, drop us into the action and draw the lesson out later.

Choose first and final words carefully. We never get a second chance to make a good first impression. One needn’t memorize the story, but great leaders know the first and final words cold … and can deliver them without hesitation. Take advantage of the impact of a powerful opening and conclusion.

Follow the “Goldilocks” theory of details. Give us “just the right amount.” If you give too many details, we get lost, or worse, bored. If you don’t give us enough detail, we may lack the context to grasp the story fully or to see ourselves inside your tale. If possible, test out your story with a few friends who have a similar background to your audience; let them help you discern the right level of detail.

Read the rest of his article for more ideas: “A Refresher on Storytelling 101,” Harvard Business Review, October 8.