Most business presentations fail because they’re stuffed with too much information. Rather than selecting the most relevant facts, presenters force their audiences to sift through a mound of data to find the golden nuggets contained within.

Business storytellers do something different. Rather than forcing a listener to pan for the gold, storytellers place whole nuggets into their pans, leaving them to ponder how the chunks got there. In other words, storytellers don’t just state facts, they make story statements.

Let’s take a look at the difference using the following famous sentence:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The sentence contains a simple fact. It’s like saying the sky is blue, the product is rated number one, or the company hit its quarterly goal. There’s nothing that a listener can do with this information other than to just accept it passively. However, by making a slight modification, we can transform this factoid into a story statement.

The quick brown fox wanted to jump over the lazy dog.

Story statements do two things: deliver a fact while simultaneously spawning a question within a listener’s mind. When listeners hear a story statement, their Neural Story Nets compel them to wonder what comes next.

  • Why did he want to jump over the dog?”
  • “Did he make it?”
  • “Is there something that’s keeping him from doing so?”

By stating what the fox wants instead of what the fox did, storytellers transform an audience from passive listeners into active participants.

Here are some story statement alternatives:


In each of these cases, we’ve modified the facts in such a way that compels the audience to want to know more.

Think about your next business presentation. List the most important facts that you must convey. Now, rather than spewing them rapid-fire, turn them into story statements. If you deliver them correctly, your audience will feel as an integral part of your presentation rather than a passive target to dump data upon.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress