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Defining Story®
Speaking & Storytelling for Business Success

Find Your Story!
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How to Make Your Story Awesome
by Sally Strackbein

What do you add and what do you take out to make your story awesome? The first time you tell your story, you’ll leave out important information and you will ramble about irrelevant facts. Don’t worry. It’s normal. Here’s how to refine your story. First, write the whole story. Don’t like to write? That’s OK. You can record yourself telling your story either solo or to a supportive group. Then you can have the recording of your story transcribed.

Now that you have a written version of your story, read each sentence and ask yourself:

  1. Can I expect my audience to understand this or do they need more information? Don’t assume your audience likes the sports you like or watched the movie/read the book or saw the TV show.
  2. Is this relevant to the story or do I just like it? Take out your favorite vignettes if they don’t add value to your story. You can use them in other stories.
  3. Did I already cover this? If so, which version is better?
  4. Have I included dialogue between the main characters? Dialogue brings life and interest to your story.
  5. Did I set the stage/timeframe/characters? Don’t leave your audience wondering or they will stop listening to your story while they attempt to figure out who, what, when, where, why, how.
  6. Is there a challenge or conflict to be overcome? If not, your story can be boring.
  7. Have I made myself the hero of my story? (Not good.) Even if you were the hero, you had help somewhere along the line. Acknowledge someone who helped you along the way.
  8. Have I identified the learning in my story that others can benefit from? Clearly state your learning point.
  9. Did I end the story at the correct spot to anchor the learning? Don’t go on and on. You can create another story that begins where this one ends.
  10. Am I reliving the story instead of just narrating it? You don’t want to sound like a boring school lecture.
  11. Have I included sensory information for better brain retention? The brain has an easier time recalling sensory information than mere facts.
  12. What’s my sound bite? What short phrase will the audience remember and repeat to remind them of your story?

After you refine your story using this list, test your story again on another or the same audience. Pay attention to their reactions. If they are laughing in the right spots or looking horrified at the right moment, you are on the right track. Keep refining and testing your story until you are confident that it is ready for prime time.

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copyright © Sally Strackbein.

Permission is granted to reprint this article in your newsletter or magazine with the following byline and clickable link:

Sally Strackbein is a consultant, speaker and author.
To find out more about her programs and services,
or call 703-262-0361.

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