A student from the USC Marshall School of Business approached me after my talk.

“I tried to tell a story last week,” she said. “And it was horrible.”

I laughed. “C’mon. It couldn’t have been that bad.”

“No, no,” she said. “It was.”

I appreciated her candor. “Okay then, did you learn anything today that’ll make your story better?”

“Yes,” she said enthusiastically.

“Great. Then I’ve done my job. Now, it’s your turn. You need to go out and keep telling that story until you get it right.”

My job is to help you tell stories. Let me parse that last sentence for you: I help; you tell. You need to apply what you’ve learned and there’s only one way to do that. Go tell a story. Right now. And after that, retell it over and over until you get it right. And how do you know that you’re getting it right? By asking yourself the following questions:

  • Was it too long?
  • Too short?
  • Did it get to the point?
  • Heck, did it even HAVE a point?
  • What parts did your audience love?
  • What parts caused their attention to wane?
  • What parts required you to backtrack and fill in gaps of information?
  • Was your ending too predictable?

Storytellers tell stories. Then they retell them. Will your first stories be terrible? Probably. Lackluster is the typical outcome of most first-time endeavors. But don’t worry. You’ll get better with practice. I promise.

Do you want to be a storyteller? Start telling stories.Today. As in right now. No, I mean it. Go! What are you waiting for?


Photo Credit: Bain News Service, Publisher. Leon Berman, Class orator on Arbor Day, N.Y. Public Schools, New York. , . 5/8/08 date created or published later by Bain. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2004000389/.