Top 10 Storytelling Tips to Be More Influential

“A woman found a cocoon for a butterfly. On a bright morning during summer she discovered a small opening, she sat and watched the butterfly for many hours as it tried to force its body through the little hole, but the butterfly got stuck because it couldn’t make progress.

The woman decided to assist the butterfly, and with a sharp knife, she cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then came out without stress. But something unusual happened. The butterfly had swollen wings and was unable to fly.

The woman thought the butterfly would be able to find a balance, but it could not fly. In her kindness and affection, the woman didn’t realize that the butterfly’s struggle to come out from the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings to enable it ready for flight.

When we inspire, influence and teach others, it is important to discover when people need to spread their wings and leave their comfort zone. Sometimes the challenge makes all the difference.”

storytelling tipsStorytelling is a proven method of influencing audiences to adopt your perspective or rally others around your cause. “Robert McKee in an HBR article entitled “Storytelling that works,” says that “Persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity”. A story can travel where qualitative analysis is denied access: our heart, to influence people you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.

I have discovered storytelling tips over the years that can help you master the art.

Top 10 Storytelling Tips

1. INTEGRITY AND CHARACTER: A vital part of storytelling is making the story engaging and responsive. When different characters and roles speak to each other in a story, it evokes immediate attention and reliability making the story a masterpiece.
Storytelling tips: Use quotes that relate directly to your audience and let the characters speak in a unique tone, giving integrity to the conversation.

2. UNDERSTAND THE ENCODING STAGE: To be more influential you have to discover how to communicate information to your teammates in a useful, compelling and appealing way. For example, Greg Stephen and colleagues kept records of brain activity of the speaker and audience during natural verbal communication and discovered that when a listener’s brain activity in the default network reflects the speaker’s brain activity, there was better understanding and flow of communication between the speaker and listener.
Storytelling tips: Understand the use of emotions, your social-cognitive abilities, and motivation in storytelling.

3. VALUE: Experiments have found out that people utilize their social concerns when they hear new information, to be on the top of your game as an influencer you should tell your story in a way that it adds a personal value to your direct audience and also to the other interests your listeners might have in mind.
Storytelling tips: Storytelling should be able to resonate and appeal to the feeling of others. These enable your information to spread.

4. CONNECTIVITY: I discovered that connectivity could work wonders through specific references or repetition and it can link concepts and phrases from one part of a story to another part of the story giving the basis for your listeners to establish meaning.

5. CREATIVITY: Create a storyboard; map it out, while listening to music or reading something for inspiration. A good story builds suspense, setbacks, and ups and downs, carry your audience along and just like in a fairy tale, introduces tension.

6. EMOTIONAL LANGUAGE: Use the right graphics/images and pictures to send your message. Avoid complex graphics, a beautiful picture with emotional language will convey your message effectively.

7. KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE: Research shows that the attention span of people in organizations is about three to five minutes.
Storytelling tips: Leave your audience demanding more.

8. LITERARY TECHNIQUES ARE IMPORTANT PIECES OF MEMORABLE STORIES: Remember the popular quote from the animal farm;


The tale of the animal farm related the events of the rise of Stalin and the Soviet Union before the Second World War II but was represented as an allegory by the author.

Storytelling tips: Storytelling should be spiced with literary techniques, turning a simple story you wish to deliver to an outstanding, memorable and controversial work of art.

9. ONE BIG IDEA: What’s your point? What is that one point you want to stick in the brains of your listeners?
Storytelling tips: Make your story clearer, and let it have more impact by focusing on one powerful idea.

10. SERVE YOUR AUDIENCE: Do a critical analysis of your audience, business, customers and the services they like, not what you feel you like when preparing for storytelling.
Storytelling tips: Appeal to human interest, give concrete details and show them that you’re concerned about their growth and satisfaction.

I believe that stories powerfully connect us to our audience. When we share our own real- life stories or the stories of others, our audiences feel that they get to know us as people of integrity, people who have lives outside the formal setting, people who have struggled with challenges and who have discovered how to overcome them. Like we say in business “people buy from people they know, like and trust. “During my years of coaching business leaders, I’ve seen that there is simply no more influential way to have that occur than through the strategic use of storytelling. Storytelling gives your audience the opportunity to buy your ideas and appeal to their feelings at the same time. As a great leader, you must recognize that human connections need to go before concepts and strategies.

I am a professional business and executive coach. If you are receptive to improving your skills and performance, please click here and tell me what you would like to work on.
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Dave Schoenbeck
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