Storytelling: The great art of storytelling

Reading time 8 minutes
Storytelling: The great art of storytelling

We encounter storytelling every day in a variety of forms. When you tell your partner about your day at work or exchange vacation experiences with friends, this already falls under the category of storytelling. It is practically impossible for people to live together without interacting verbally.

Nevertheless, not all storytelling is the same. It is a sophisticated technique that involves much more than simply relaying experiences and stories. There is a lot to keep in mind, especially in the professional speaker field.

What is storytelling anyway?

Successful storytelling describes the art of telling a story in such a compelling and entertaining way that it captivates the audience. The keyword is: arousing emotions. One and the same piece of information can either touch you deeply or leave you completely cold, depending on how it was conveyed.

Storytelling is all about reaching the hearts of the audience. As many senses as possible are addressed. It is therefore not surprising that the method is used primarily in the marketing sector: good advertising is synonymous with good storytelling.

Regardless of the specific content of the (advertising) message, good storytelling is guided by an arc of tension built up as follows:

  1. Description of the initial situation, which must be emotionally moving for the listener.
  2. Presentation of a sympathetic protagonist.
  3. A conflict that must be overcome.
  4. A traceable development with a clear change (before-after effect).
  5. Climax including conclusion that the listener can apply in his everyday life.
storytelling keynote speaker

Learning storytelling made easy: 10 tips for good stories

Some people have an innate talent for telling compelling stories. If this doesn't apply to you, it doesn't mean that it's not worth your while.

Of course, a certain basic talent for storytelling is an advantage. Still, storytelling is basically a craft that can be learned. The following tips can help you:

1. look for suitable role models

To learn storytelling, you should look at how successful speakers do it. You'll find plenty of inspiration and ideas on YouTube and on television. What topic the speaker deals with is secondary. The important thing is that he knows how to fascinate his audience.

2. become aware of your message

To ensure that your story is not just a lifeless string of words and sentences, you should think in advance about the message you want to send to your audience: What nerve do you want to strike? Be as specific as possible about the point of your story.

3. pay attention to authenticity

Don't try to play anything to your audience. This will be noticed faster than you would like. Show yourself as you are and tell an authentic story that is in line with your personal values and ideas. Only in this way will you succeed in winning other people over to you and your topic.

4. not afraid of loud emotions

As already mentioned, good storytelling thrives on emotions. It is therefore quite desirable that you raise your voice powerfully, laugh or perhaps even cry during your speech. Ideally, your audience will do the same. Nothing connects people as much as united joy, sadness or passion.

5. be someone you can identify with

Good storytelling touches the reality of the listeners' lives. It is therefore essential that they can identify with you as a speaker. To achieve this, you should appear human. The important thing is not to be admired on stage, but to reach the audience emotionally. Therefore, speak openly about your hopes, fears and experiences on the respective topic.

6. preparation for the audience

In order to emotionally engage your audience, you first need to know exactly who you're dealing with: Which target group is listening to you? What does their everyday life look like? What do they already know about the topic and what new insights do they expect from your presentation? Good preparation is indispensable for storytelling.

7. care for an aha experience

The goal of your presentation is, of course, that your audience takes home new insights that are useful to them in their particular situation. Think carefully about what kind of "aha" experience you want your audience to have and work towards that (keyword: suspense, see above).

8. answer all the questions you have raised

The above hint sounds self-explanatory, but it happens that it is not followed! If you take up a question in your presentation, you must also explain the resolution to the audience. Never leave a question unanswered. This leaves your audience with a feeling of frustration at the end of the presentation.

9. involve your audience

Good storytelling means interaction. Involve your audience as actively as possible. You can do this, for example, by asking questions: How do you think the story will go? What would you have decided?

10. a good punch line determines success and failure

As exciting and entertaining as the presentation may have been, if the punch line disappoints or is even missing, the audience will leave feeling unsatisfied. To avoid this, there are several plot tricks you can use as a guide:

  • Plot twist: You deliberately lure the listener onto a false track and resolve your story in a spectacular way at the end.
  • Network plot: At first glance, the protagonists have little in common. Piece by piece, you work out the connections during your presentation.
  • Puzzle plot: Here there are many aspects that are interwoven with each other. You resolve one question after the other so that a coherent overall picture emerges at the end.
  • Triumph plot: Your protagonist has overcome all obstacles and emerges from your narrative as a radiant victor. The classic happy ending.

7 Storytelling Methods and Techniques to Improve Your Speaking Skills

Now you know what makes good storytelling and which tips can be helpful. In the following, we would like to introduce you to the seven most successful storytelling techniques:

1. use the power of your voice

The most persuasive and emotionally moving content won't win over your audience if your rhetorical skills leave something to be desired. First of all, you need to strike the right tone. This is meant literally: The voice has a decisive influence on whether we like to listen to someone or not.

In addition, your voice reveals a lot about your personality. Inner insecurity so you can listen to it! This is the result of a recent study.

Therefore, try to speak as calmly and clearly as possible. Be careful not to swallow any words. Your voice should also have a pleasant volume. To check this, it is recommended that you read a text aloud on a test basis and record yourself doing so. Alternatively, a test audience that gives you honest feedback is also suitable.

2. ethos, pathos and logos

Ethos, pathos and logos are the three guidelines of good storytelling. Ethos refers to credibility, pathos to emotional appeal, and logos to coherent argumentation. When preparing your speech, make sure that all three of these core elements are present.

3. symbolism and preinterpretation

A good storyteller knows how to stimulate the imagination of his audience. For this purpose, you can use different symbols in your presentation to describe a situation: a red rose in bloom for love, a raindrop in the desert, etc.

Furthermore, it is possible to awaken forebodings in your audience in the course of the narration. Whether these should be subtle or obvious depends on the context. A little tip: The best foreshadowing is only recognized as such by the audience later, i.e. after the resolution of the core conflict.

4. mythologies

Every culture has its own mythologies. Knowing these and incorporating them into your speech can help you gain the sympathy and attention of your audience. Ancient myths can be a valuable springboard to the modern topics you want to talk about in your speech.

Moreover, most myths are symbolic in nature, understood by all audiences: Take, for example, the legend of Icarus, who came too close to the sun. Figuratively speaking, you could tell your audience in this way that pride is not desirable.

5. quibbles

Many things that are interpreted as inescapable truth are merely a matter of interpretation: Take Macbeth, for example, who is told by the three witches that no one born of woman can kill him. Logically, one now assumes that no one is able to kill him. Macduff, however, was born by Caesarean section and thus circumvented this law.

Such subtleties remain in the listener's memory for a long time because they trigger a surprise effect that should not be underestimated. There are several more examples in the literature. Therefore, it is advisable for your further education as a speaker if you read regularly.

6. application of rhetorical questions

A rhetorical question is not asked to be answered seriously, but to make the listener think and, if necessary, to provoke him a little. The following are a few examples from everyday use:

  • Who knows?
  • Why not?
  • Is the sky really blue?

Rhetorical questions make your presentation seem more human and authentic. However, do not overdo it, but use this stylistic device skillfully at the appropriate point. Otherwise, your audience will get the impression that you are not taking them seriously. Of course, this must be avoided at all costs.

7. "Show, Don't Tell!"

If you've ever been involved in creative writing, you'll certainly be familiar with this rule. But it is also of enormous importance in the field of speaking! Let's make the difference clear:

  • Tell: I feel nervous.
  • Show: My knees tremble and my breath comes to a halt. I rub my sweaty hands together.

You see: "Tell" is a factually neutral description of a condition, while "Show" arouses emotions. The latter is, of course, desirable in a rousing speech.

What role does storytelling play in becoming a professional speaker?

Did you know that storytelling can be a profession? Professional speakers, also known by the English term keynote speaker, are used in various contexts.

They are booked by companies, for example, to speak about a specific topic as part of a conference or meeting. Although "lecture" is actually the wrong term: It's about making a message tangible. The keynote is tailored precisely to the audience in question, both in terms of content and address.

A good speaker's performance will be remembered by the audience months or even years later. Instead of focusing on graphs and tables, you work with emotions. Should you be interested in the career of a keynote speaker, you must master the art of storytelling. This is the basic requirement to become a professional speaker.

Good storytelling as a keynote speaker: examples

As mentioned at the beginning, it is highly advisable for aspiring speakers to take their cue from successful role models. That's why we've picked out two examples of successful storytelling for you:

YouTube video

Do you notice the authenticity and enthusiasm that these two speakers exude during their storytelling? Do they manage to carry you away emotionally right away? That's exactly what matters. Watch the videos several times and take notes on structure, voice, gestures and punchlines.

Conclusion: The best speakers are storytellers

Without successful storytelling, a speaker may not call himself such. To put it simply: a keynote speaker Sync and corrections by n17t01 a storyteller. While having good verbal skills and self-confidence are advantages for your personal career path, storytelling is a craft that can be learned and continuously improved.

The tips and techniques described above can help you on your way to becoming a professional speaker. By the way, the ability of storytelling does not only help you in your job, but is beneficial in almost all life situations.


The key to your success:
Your FREE workbook "Keynote Development" by professional speaker Frank Asmus:

✓ How to reach your audience emotionally 
✓ How to create enthusiasm for your idea
✓ This is how you stay in the minds of your listeners
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

Like this article? Don't forget to share!

Recommended by Greator

Greator Slogan
Data privacy
Cookie settings
© copyright by Greator 2023