I just returned from a 3 day meeting in Orlando.  Over 3000 people attended and, as you would expect, there were lots of presentations.

The presentations were like most presentations, but I noticed something interesting. Many of the presentations contained a story, and the stories had a noticeable effect on the audience. Whenever a presenter started a story, the audience got quiet and were more focused on the presenter. Everyone was more engaged.

The stories that were most engaging had common elements; they were about a specific person and a specific place and time. The best stories had a direct emotional link to the presenter’s message and were brief and concise.

The basic elements of this “springboard” type story are described in The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling – Mastering the Art and discipline of the Business Narrative by Stephen Denning (  Denning defines a springboard story as one crafted to “communicate a complex new idea and ignite action to implement it”.

Some of Denning’s springboard story elements include:

–  Having a single protagonist

–  Specifying the date and place

–  Stripping the story of any unnecessary detail

–  Linking the story to the reason for telling it

–  Using phrases like, “what if”, “just imagine”, or ”just think”

Denning gives many examples and suggests more elements for great business storytelling in his book. I think that if you use at least a few of these basic elements your storytelling will be better and your presentations will be more engaging.

Isn’t engaging your audience and igniting some action what presenting is all about?

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring


2 Replies to “How is your storytelling?”

  1. I agree, as an audience member you can relate more to the prsenter if there is a story. It can make it more real and you can reflect to see how the content/topic will apply to you.
    But what if it is a technical subject? Many of us work with technology, be it to sell it or teach about it.
    How can you use storytelling in a lecture about physics (for example)?
    Thanks for the interesting read.

  2. I think there are stories everywhere, physics laws were discovered by someone and the application of the laws are seen in everyday devices. So I think there could be a story of discovery and a story of application. There is even a story of how other people have learned a technical subject. So I think if you look for them stories are there.

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