Be More Than a Speaker, Be a Storyteller and Truth Teller

What is your favorite movie or book? No matter what you choose, the reason is most likely because it tells a good story. That’s no accident. A good storyteller weaves a tale that dramatic, dynamic, and memorable. As a speaker, isn’t that exactly what you want to achieve? Your journey to transform from a speaker into a storyteller is easier than you think.

Know your audience

Before you can tell your story, you need to know who’s listening. Customize your cadence and your content to the audience. Is it an auditorium with lights and a stage? Or is it more intimate like a break out session in a meeting room? Whether the audience is big or small, there is a reason why they chose to hear you. What are they expecting to gain from their time with you? Having a clear idea of who might be attending your talk will give you a roadmap to what you should discuss. For instance, if you are a motivational speaker and your audience is in the financial services, you may want to emphasize building trust through motivation. But if your audience is in the technical field, perhaps emphasizing leadership through motivation is a better fit. Know your audience and adjust your presentation accordingly.

Grab their interest

All good stories start with a good hook and take the listener on a journey. Reading dry statistics from a PowerPoint or wagging finger and dictating to the audience what they should do is no fun. Instead, start with a personal anecdote about you or a situation you encountered that relates to your talk with an unexpected, emotional, or humorous background. Get them interested right from the beginning by giving a little of yourself.

Delivering a talk that encourages the audience to identify with you lays the foundation for a more effective and engaging presentation. Writers hear the phrase, ‘show, don’t tell’, a lot when they receive critiques of their work. If you want to grab the audience and be more engaging, you will need to show, not tell. Provide meaningful, vivid details in your presentation. Don’t overly rely on statistics. Use fun facts to highlight or punctuate your talk, not as your primary message.

Get to the point

Just because you have the spotlight doesn’t mean you need to hog it! Stay within your allotted time. A good storyteller knows when to end the story. A good storyteller also knows how to pace the story. Generally, stories are constructed with a narrative arc in three acts. The first act is the introduction which may take about 10 – 15% of your time. The second act where you will see the climax of the story could take up to 70% of your time. The third act where you wrap things up would be the remaining time. If your presentation falls within those guidelines, you are pacing the delivery and bringing the presentation to a natural feeling conclusion.

Practice, practice, practice

You don’t need a script or teleprompter but rehearsing your content and getting comfortable with it will pay off during the actual presentation. Know the content like the back of your hand. Being an effective and dynamic speaker takes practice. If you have a trusted colleague or friend who can help you assess your presentation, ask them to listen and take their constructive feedback with an open mind and heart.

As you explore your presentation style, keep the following elements in mind. Your audience wants a story they can believe in, see themselves in, or aspire to be in. How will you raise your game to be more than a speaker and become a storyteller?


Kristen White is a Content Catalyst and Powerful Interviewer. She can quickly add the crisp clarity, magic dust and unique brand elements to any message, book, product or campaign.

Through her award-winning interview skills, Kristen will excavate and synthesize a personal story and legacy into a magnetic brand and content strategy. Her strong intuitive insight, journalistic training and versatile wordsmithing, offer clients a wellspring of fingerprint language options to apply to all levels of their written, spoken and video communication. Kristen is a bestselling author, award-winning documentary film director and cast member, television series creator/writer, and television on-camera journalist. As the CEO of Rock the Stage, Page, and Screen, a digital media and marketing company, Kristen supports clients with unique personal brand development, speech writing and performance, book concepts, titles, outlines and marketing, and online business consulting.

Rock the Stage, INC, offers professional video production for authors, speakers and coaches with a variety of speaking topics.  The company also offers speechwriting, broadcast-quality lifestyle video interviews and fast-track book publishing via an on-camera interview.