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The art of storytelling in business

Attending the Sydney Writers' Festival this year was, as always, an exhilarating experience for the mind.

One event that highlighted the power of the story was 5 x 15.

Five speakers from diverse backgrounds and professions told the stories behind their most innovative ideas, passions and obsessions. Each took to the stage to tell their stories in fifteen minutes.

Each speaker held the audience's attention from beginning to end:

  • Amelia Lester, the Managing Editor of The New Yorker, spoke about her early experiences as a 'checker' for the paper
  • Scottish author Jackie Kay explored the intimacy of strangers via a taxi-ride retrospective
  • Hip hop artist and manager Tim Levinson discussed the impact hip hop had on him as a young boy and how it influenced his thoughts on education
  • Best-selling novelist Kate Mosse revealed the importance of female heroes
  • Physicist and cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss, gave his argument on why Star Trek saved the world

The message behind their stories was clear and they supported their message with examples from their stories. The end result was that they were all remembered and their ideas discussed for hours afterwards.

Four questions to help develop your story

When giving a presentation in a business context, do you tell your story?

Here are four questions to ask yourself to ensure that your story is relevant:

  1. What is my message?
  2. What do I want the audience to think, feel and do as a result of my story?
  3. How is this story relevant to my topic?
  4. How will the story add value to my message?

Tell a story, make a point

Stories help to make an emotional connection with the audience. The connection you make with your audience with your story will add impact to your point.

When preparing your next presentation, think about a story that you can tell that will add to your message. Tell the story and then make your point or make your point and reinforce it with your story.

People remember stories. Stories that your audience can relate to will help them to remember your message.

What is your story?


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. Her programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
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