Top Ten Tips to Tell a Story that Makes an Impact

All Great Communicators Are Great Storytellers. They Use Their Own Stories to Communicate With Power and Impact

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Top Ten Tips to Tell a Story that Makes an Impact … is part of a series of tips, techniques and stories to help you make an impact in all your communication needs, whether it’s conversations, educating, teaching, coaching, mentoring, presenting, influencing, negotiating or leading.

All great communicators are great storytellers. They use their own stories to communicate with power and impact.

Those are my words, words I wrote a long time ago in a blog post, words taken from the learning from the stories of people I’ve worked with, words that I’m revisiting and revising now as I research my new book, which is about helping people find, develop and tell their unique WorkLife stories. Here’s my original post with some revisions.

A Top Ten Tips to Tell a Story that Makes an Impact Case Study:

All great communicators are great storytellers. They use their own stories to communicate with power and impact. By doing this they have authenticity and presence giving them the ability to influence and lead.

Sharing is powerful. In his book Every Tool’s a Hammer, the maker, designer, television host, producer, Adam Savage talks about sharing.

Book Wisdom

Savage says: “Sharing what I know is a personal mission. It’s a key part of how I balance the scales for the incredible gifts I’ve been given. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed in my life has always been directly related to those who’ve supported me, and to all the amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, know, collaborate with, and learn from. As a maker and storyteller, I see myself as part of a continuum, going back to the beginning of humans using tools and telling stories, and continuing forward into infinite possible futures.”

Sage Wisdom

To paraphrase Stephen King: Sharing stories is a uniquely portable magic.

My intention in sharing the following tips is to help you to find, develop and tell the right story at the right time.

1. The most powerful communication has a human element. Share your experiences, your successes and your challenges, what you did to overcome them and what you learnt in the process. This gives insight into who you are, allowing you to break down walls and connect with people at a human level. In stories characters will always have flaws, and if you include a past failure, it will add another layer to your story and endear you to your audience.

2. Take time to think about an intriguing way to begin your story. You need to capture the attention of your audience from the very beginning. The beginning doesn’t just “hook” your listeners, it also sets the tone and launches the plot of your message. An example might be establishing conflict from the outset, e.g. “we were halfway to Mars when our fuel tank blew up”. This helps to create a sense of urgency and you can go back and fill in the details once people are on board with the fact that exciting stuff is happening.

3. Take your audience on a journey. Stories are full of events and revelations that take your audience somewhere new. All the best stories contain transformations. Think about what transformations you want your audience to experience by the end of your story.

4. Take your time. The pleasure is in the telling. Remember a pause, a look, a gesture can convey as much as words. Allow yourself to see the pictures, hear the sounds, smell the scents, savour the tastes and feel the emotions, and then your audience will too.

5. To keep you audience on the edge of their seats, use …………. “suspense”. Not knowing what is going to happen next will make people want to sit up and listen. You could do this by posing a “big question” that will keep people hooked until the end. Maybe you’ll have a surprise ending, and who doesn’t love a surprise! A surprise can come in the form of a well-guarded secret revealed at the right time. This is guaranteed to get people talking and your story will spread like wildfire

6. At times when you have to deliver difficult messages, it’s worth remembering that listeners are more open to receiving when they hear the message delivered in a story format. They can lower their walls and defences because the message is coming to them in an indirect way. This helps to replace suspicion with trust.

7. Share your vision stories to inspire hope, stimulate action and raise morale. Telling a story first will guide your audience towards seeing what the future ahead holds and this is particularly important during times of uncertainty. Talk about the obstacles to overcome. When people know the efforts needed to achieve these goals they will appreciate them even more. The old adage of “not appreciating things that are easily attained” comes into play here.

8. The greater the range of emotions in your story, the deeper the connection you will build with your audience. Empathy is important when storytelling: look at the world as though you are experiencing it from different perspectives, stand in the shoes of your audience. This helps to communicate your understanding of what others are feeling and thinking, and shows respect of other’s point of view.

9. Tell stories to inspire people who want change, to sustain positive energy over time. Stories will get people’s imaginative juices working, they will become curious about what else there is to find out and have a greater sense of being an integral part of that change.

10. Finally, if your thought process has dried up and you’re struggling to come up with ideas to get your next story started, places you can find inspiration from include:

Family, friends, colleagues –having an innate interest in people’s lives is a core attribute of all storytellers.

Dreams — we’ve all been intrigued by a dream at some point and have been left frustrated by waking up and wanting to know what happened next. The solution: write it down as quickly as possible and you never know what a seed may germinate.

Ask yourself “what if” then use the self-feedback you receive to open your mind to the infinite possibilities that are empowered through the power of storytelling.

Develop your storytelling ability by making storytelling part of your daily life. After all storytelling is the best communication tool a conversationalist, presenter, influencer, negotiator or leader can use; and as a strategy, whenever you want to make an impact tell a story.

Words of Wisdom

“Sharing information is the fuel for the engine of progress.” Adam Savage


I continue to share the power of story and storytelling in the hope that it will help people to learn, develop and grow through the power of finding, developing and telling their unique WorkLife stories.

Today’s featured book is: Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.