Dead Simple Ways To Avoid A Storytelling Headache


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I brace myself for a wild ride every time my kids put on their storytelling hats.

What is fun is that they get so animated and excited that they practically bounce up and down.

Then they demand your attention. For them, it is extremely important to recreate every minute detail. If you don’t drop everything immediately to follow along they will either:

  • Get Louder O
  • Get Louder and insist on starting over

Once they are certain they will no longer be interrupted, the tidal wave of information begins and you watch in amazement thinking their little heads might explode at any moment. You wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise if you try.






What appears above is a true story. It happened to my kids this week and I’m telling it to you exactly the way they told it to me. I’ll give you bonus points if you were able to actually read it and understand it, because we couldn’t the first time.

We had to ask them to go back and tell it to us again. Slower this time. We caught enough of the keywords to understand that the bus had an accident and the kids got to school late.

The second time through, we interrupted, much to their chagrin. We asked questions to make sure we had the story straight and that there truly hadn’t been any real damage or injury other than to a poor tree in somebody’s yard.

Are You Giving Your Readers a Headache?

I think sometimes we tell our stories like kids. We are so excited about what we have to say that we are determined to get it out before anyone has a chance to interrupt us. We don’t pause to make sure that the story is clear or that they understand why we are telling the story in the first place.

In those instances, it becomes less about the story and more about the storyteller. (I get to tell it first!!) So basically we do a word vomit on our readers. If we throw it all out there, people will still get it. Right?


How we approach the act of telling the story is as important as the story itself. And most of time your readers, who have no emotional investment in the story, aren’t going to stick around for the second time through.

Here are some dead simple ways to tell a story without giving your reader a headache:

  1. Make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes it feels like we should jump to the end to catch readers with the crazy plot twist. But actually this leaves us more confused. We don’t know how we got there, and worse yet, we may yawn at the dramatic condescending closing act. You need to build some suspense.
  2. Slow down. It’s easy to get swept up in the story and it’s natural to want to push ahead. But sometimes the tiniest detail at the beginning is the thing that ties it up at the end with a neat little bow. So don’t rush it and forget those details that pack a punch.
  3. Don’t leave us hanging. You’ve managed to snag someone’s attention. They’re interested. They are there with you. And then you disappear before closing the loop. Unless it was intentional (and every story plot that sets us up for a sequel is intentional) all’s you do is leave the reader frustrated and annoyed. We feel cheated and angry (likely not the emotion you want to convey).

And a bonus tip: hitting us over the head and getting louder with your information with inappropriate bold fonts and overuse of ALL CAPS is never a good idea. (Ouch!)

So next time you are super excited and ready to share your thoughts with the world, do us all a favor and take a step back. Take a deep breath. Bring some objectivity back into the picture and make sure you are hitting all the right notes to build your story arc.

?You’ll leave your readers hanging on your every word and wanting more.

(photo credit NickPiggott)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christy Smith
ThinkBlot Communications
I have over a decade of experience in client account management and satisfaction, and I have helped large organizations develop products strategies that gain maximum buy-in during implementation. In my previous roles, my client portfolio has included Fortune 500 companies in the Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, IT, and Telecommunications industries.


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