Are You A Great Storyteller?

Jun 30, 2017 1 Min Read


We’ve all seen them. Emotionally flat presentations.

Emotionally devoid corporate mission, vision, and value statements that are simply wall art.

They’re not memorable.

Even when your team memorises and recites them, ask what they mean and you’ll get blank stares.

Why? There’s no emotion. There’s no story.

What’s your favourite movie? I’ll bet you can enthusiastically tell me all about it, even if you haven’t seen it in years. Stories are like nutrition for our souls.

We remember them and love them. They have deeper meaning for us.

On YouTube, there’s a wonderful video clip of a group of marines belting out the lyrics to the theme song from Disney’s Frozen.

Who would have thought combat soldiers could relate to a Disney princess?

And then, there are company stories.

Many of us have heard the story about a Nordstrom’s customer returning a snow tire, and the customer service representative handling that request happily, even though Nordstrom doesn’t sell snow tires.

We hear the story and we don’t need to be told that Nordstrom’s values customer service. We know already, we have the story.


What do you love in a story?

Notice what makes stories memorable for you. For most people, the stories we remember have some sort of emotional impact on us.

They have this impact because we can relate to the hero and the storyline in some way.

The stories you tell about your organisation need to be positively impactful too. Neural coupling enables us to connect to the story and personalise it.

This might interest you: The Power Of Storytelling To Connect Authentically With Your Customers

We connect to the storyteller via mirror neurons, we get deeply engaged and feel, hear, see and even smell or taste what’s happening in the story too.

And dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter gets released when a story is emotionally engaging. And that’s just a start!

Here’s the storytelling recipe my client’s love when they are crafting company stories.


Step 1: Focus on your “story customer” and their context

Who is the story for? Customers? Team members? Take a moment and think about the recipient of the story, what is their context?

Notice the situations they are in, and make sure they can relate to your stories, tell stories where they can see themselves as the hero(ine) of the piece.

When you tell your story, choose the communication vehicle that fits their context.

For example, one client’s target customer is parents of small children and they told their stories via “mummy blogs”.

Telling the same story on LinkedIn would probably not have been nearly as effective.


Step 2: Make it authentic

Fabricated stories don’t usually have the same emotional impact as the real ones. You just can’t make some of those quirky details up, as Mark Twain said “Truth is stranger than fiction”.

People like stories that have enough specific details to create a picture in their mind.

Have a contest and ask your team to submit the stories of times when your organisation’s values were demonstrated.

Develop the stories that have the most emotional impact.

To make it really memorable, it also helps if the story is told by a trusted member of the community.

For example, stories told by customers about their own experience are going to feel more genuine and impactful than ones that you publish yourself.


Step 3: Give the story movement

Start your story with a problem or situation and then tell how that problem is resolved. Make sure the story goes from a problem (or less than fully desirable situation) to a more desirable outcome.

The more challenge you present in the story, the more interesting it gets. The more distance between the starting point and the ending point, the more dramatic and compelling your presentation becomes.

Related post: Can’t Get Your Message To Stick? Try Telling A Story.


Step 4: Make it value-oriented

What value, insight, or service resolved the problem? For marketing stories, they might be about how your product or service helped in a unique or challenging situation.

Ask yourself: what desirable outcome happened for the protagonist?

Make sure your story demonstrates your values. Other stories might be funnier, but you want to promote the ones that demonstrate your values, who you are and how you’ll show up for others.


Step 5: Test the efficacy

Try it out. Does the story communicate positively? Specifically test your story on a representative group of recipients to make sure it has the intended meaning and i?pact.

The internet makes this pretty easy to do, but make sure you have tried out your story in a non-recordable way before you “go big.”  Stories are memorable, so you want to make sure people are remembering you positively.


The Net-Net = C.U.R.V.E.

Not every story will meet all of the below criteria, But I like to check my clients’ stories against the CURVE model to make sure they are creating a positive experience.

  • C for Curiosity – does the recipient want to know what happened?
  • U for Urgency – does the story create a sense of “must get this done now!”
  • R for Relevance – is the story relevant to the recipient’s situation or context?
  • V for Value – does the story reflect my values, is the story valuable to the recipient?
  • E for Emotion – does the story have an emotional impact?

Your turn

People love to tell stories, they are potent engagement and teaching tools. Follow the above guide and make sure the stories being told about you and your organisation are sending the right message.


Christine Comaford is a leadership and culture coach. She is best known for helping her clients create predictable revenue, deeply engaged and passionate teams, and highly profitable growth. To get in touch with her, e-mail us at

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