Excerpted from The Irresistible Power of StorySpeak

READING TIME: 90 Seconds

1. Hook them from the start

If you’re going to tell a conversational story about the time the airline destroyed your luggage, first tease your listeners with something like “Let me tell you about the most embarrassing (weirdest, funniest, scariest, most annoying, rudest) thing that happened to me at the airport last Friday.” That gives the listener the who, where and when – the most important ingredients of any satisfying story. Then tell your story. They’ll keep listening to find out what was embarrassing about it.

2. Stick to a single point

If you’re telling a story about how your case appeared on the baggage carousel split open and with your baggy undies falling out and your fuzzy pink slippers jammed against the conveyor belt, make sure your listeners know the single point of your story and that everything you recount revolves around that point.

3. Capture the imagination

Add one or two sensory details. Let the audience imagine the rest. You can punctuate your story by asking, “what would you have done in this situation?” or “And what do you think happened next?”

4. Vary the tone, volume and speed of your voice

Raising and lowering the volume and tone of your voice and varying the speed slightly adds excitement, humor and drama.

5. Moral of the story

Finish with a lesson learned. “Next time you’d better believe I’m using a strap/getting a bigger case/….”