We’ve all sat through ho-hum presentations full of boring data and far too many slides. How can we turn a “ho-hum” message into a “heck, yeah” story that engages, informs, and inspires?

This blog post introduces a topic covered in our course, Storytelling for Change. For more information, check out the course page or download the course syllabus.

Great stories—whether hurriedly shared as a one-minute elevator pitch to a busy executive, delivered to a crowd of concerned parents, or presented to anxious employees of a newly merged company—have a magical way of captivating heart and mind.

Problem is, no one teaches us how to tell a good story.

While some people are born storytellers, the rest of us CAN learn to put together a compelling narrative from disparate data and story elements. Our posts, presentations, pitches, talks, white papers, websites, explainer videos…it’s ALL storytelling, and each can be greatly improved by considering the seven steps listed below.

Seven Steps to Creating a Compelling Story

If you think of building a story like a manufacturer might assemble a car—one step at a time, using the parts (story elements) and tools (worksheets and fun exercises) available to you—story creation becomes accessible and doable.

Here are seven basic steps to consider when “assembling” a story with impact:

  1. Set clear goals for your story. Determine what you want people to understand or begin to do after hearing your story.
  2. Collect story elements. This could be data, emails, pictures, or “characters” (the people who need to hear the story).
  3. Analyze, filter, and prioritize story elements. Don’t confuse data with story or provide too much detail, which can be overwhelming.
  4. Develop empathy for your audience. Make the audience the star of the story. When you show you understand what it’s like to dwell in their world, you connect better.
  5. Create a story arc. Consider the action taking place along the timeline of your story and explore narrative arcs that could guide the shape of your story.
  6. Present like a pro. Enhance the impact of your story by sharpening your visuals and learning to present your story confidently in a manner your audience will appreciate.
  7. Take your story for a spin. Test your story, get feedback, and revise.

The Importance of Relating to Your Audience

To better connect with your audience—one of the most important aspects of effective storytelling—we use our Empathy Map, a powerful way to think about what matters to your audience.

This worksheet helps you analyze and understand the motivations of people in your audience and reveals insights you can use to create a compelling message that people hear.

For a deeper dive into understanding an audience and creating memorable stories that connect, inspire, and inform, don’t miss our Storytelling for Change course, led by Creative Director Tim May.

What will I learn in the Storytelling for Change course?

During this three-day course, you will learn to:

  • Craft memorable stories your audience can repeat and retell to spark change
  • Set clear goals for your story and use frameworks to outline important elements of it
  • Inspire your audience to take action
  • Sharpen the clarity of your story by working with visuals
  • Test and improve your story with feedback
  • Keep your audience interested and engaged

Who should attend the Storytelling for Change course?

Engaging for anyone who wants to create a compelling narrative—from business executives to school administrators to freelancers—this course is particularly effective for those who are:

  • Looking to achieve better buy-in and increase their influence
  • Struggling to connect data points with a compelling narrative that moves people to action
  • Limited on time to get their audience to care or understand the information they’re presenting

What will I take away from the course?

At the end of the course, you will leave with:

  • A personalized change story that can be adjusted and scaled to various audiences and formats
  • A series of storytelling challenges to unlock creative thinking
  • A library of storytelling methods to use in daily practice

Download the course syllabus for a full description of learning objectives and course details.

How do I enroll?

Head to our Storytelling for Change course page for registration details.

Additional Resources

To learn more about creating stories that move people to action, check out the following resources: