The Power of Storytelling

The power of storytelling is the way it engages the audience. It connects the storyteller with the audience, creating a trust bond that feels very authentic. When friend and colleague Darren Batty shared the article from Julie Neumark on LinkedIn recently I realised it was an important topic we had not covered yet.

Of course you can’t just tell a boring story and expect to create any level of connection. Telling people facts and data will not change their minds but telling a story may influence them and that is the goal.

In their paper on ‘The Science and Power of Storytelling‘ Suzuki et al. write that “engaging listeners, creates a stronger and more meaningful transfer of knowledge because it elicits participation, creates an intellectual investment and emotional bond between the speaker and the audience”.

The emotional bond and the intellectual investment that comes from good storytelling is a powerful shared connection.

People follow leaders because they connect with their charisma, passion, authenticity and how they get things done. They get to see that charisma, passion and authenticity as leaders connect – through stories.

Vanessa Boris writes that “telling stories is one of the most powerful means that leaders have to influence, teach, and inspire”. When a leader tells a rich story about how the team achieved an important strategic goal for instance. The employees have an opportunity to learn about the strategy, to connect on why decisions were made, to understand the experience the leader and team went through and to learn from the story. The story builds engagement and shares knowledge.

Image: Credit Unsplash


Every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. When you consider the story telling narrative it is important to break down into these elements.

  • BEGINNING – Start with the end in mind. Establish the story’s background, context and perspective. Give the audience a reason to engage and to learn more. Not everyone is funny but we all have stories inside us, so don’t be afraid to tell the human elements.
  • MIDDLE – When sharing a powerful story you want to build the narrative. It is a delicate balance between running through the facts and waffling about irrelevant experiences. Think about how your narrative is going to build to the conclusion, write and practice a draft that outlines all the key aspects of the narrative. Weave the data into the story.
  • END – A powerful conclusion ends up where the audience expects it to be. You started with the end in mind and in bringing the story to its natural conclusion you reinforce the message of your story.

Film director Andrew Stanton, is a master of storytelling creating incredible films like Toy Story and WALL-E. In his Ted Talk he tells us that storytelling is much like joke telling. From the first moment the storyteller knows the punchline or how the story will end. Everything you are saying should be building from the first sentence to the last, and leading to a singular goal.

Ideally that story will connect you with the audience through a shared experience, real or imagined. If you just spurt out facts then the audience does not connect with the narrative. Stanton explains that without imagination and wonder, people just get bored.


Tony Robbins is a very well known American executive coach and motivational speaker. His website talks about how the power of single story can go beyond relaying facts and data and become an effective tool to create customer loyalty.

Stories provide colour, depth and emotion to the information and that connects people to the message in a deeper way. When you know what your audience is looking for you can craft your message and tell your story in the most engaging way.


In marketing it is well known axiom that “people buy from people they know, like and trust”. A story creates a shared experience and an authentic connection. Geoffrey Berwind is a professional storytelling consultant and trainer he refers to stories to have in your ‘toolbox’.

  • A Purpose Story – is a big picture story and is used to convey a big idea or strategy.
  • A Proof Story – is used to “illustrate how others overcame a similar problem”
  • An Imagine Story – is used to explain possibilities of a change idea or what if…

In any group, roughly 40 percent will be predominantly visual learners who learn best from videos, diagrams, or illustrations. Another 40 percent will be auditory, learning best through lectures and discussions. The remaining 20 percent are kinesthetic learners, who learn best by doing, experiencing, or feeling. Storytelling has aspects that work for all three types. Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures storytelling evokes. Auditory learners focus on the words and the storyteller’s voice. Kinesthetic learners remember the emotional connections and feelings from the story.

Paul Smith, in “Leader as Storyteller: 10 Reasons It Makes a Better Business Connection”

Key Takeaways

  • The power of storytelling is in creating a trusted connection with the audience and using that to inform and influence.
  • The key to any story is in structure, emotion and authenticity. Ensure that all stories start with the end in mind.
DIGEST of an article from Convince and Convert
3 TED Talks That Uncover the Secrets of Storytelling
by Julie Neumark

and from JNeurosci - The Journal of Neuroscience
Dialogues: The Science and Power of Storytelling
by Wendy A. Suzuki, Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer, Uri Hasson, Rachel Yehuda and Jean Mary Zarate
Published: 31st October 2018

and from Harvard Business Publishing
What Makes Storytelling So Effective For Learning?
By Vanessa Boris
Published: 20th December 2017

and from Tony Robbins
The Power of Story
By Team Tony

and from The Startup
The Power of Storytelling
By Josh Nelson
Published: 24th May 2019

and from Forbes
Tap the Power of Storytelling
By Roger Dean Duncan
Published: 4th January 2014

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