How To Tell A Story With Power

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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how to tell a story with power

Another Day At The Pool

So my son comes running up to me at the pool and says, “Mom! I need money for the confession stand!”

“Well, you haven’t been very good this year,” I said, “Here’s a twenty. And don’t tell them that Mommy has rum hidden in her pool bag!”

How the story really went:

So yeah. That was a cute little story of something my son really said.  In case you didn’t get it, he said “confession stand” instead of “concession stand.”

But that’s not exactly the way it happened. Here’s what really happened:

I’m dropping my son off at his friend’s house for a play date so she can take both the boys to their neighborhood swimming pool. I’m sitting in the driveway talking with his mother, when my son runs back to my car. He leans over and says, “Mom – you forgot to give me money for the confession stand.”  We all busted out laughing.

End of story.

I knew there was something there worth repeating – something that would make for a cute little story. But I knew it was too cluttered. It was too confusing to have to tell you that I was dropping him off, sitting in someone’s driving, chatting, they were going to his pool. I knew you would be bored before I could even get to the good part. So I shortened it, and made it closer to home.

The weaker the joke, the faster you’d better get to the punch line.

Simplify Your Story To Have More Impact

The tighter you make your story, the better it will be. Brevity is the true secret if you want to know how to tell a story well.

Try to make the story happen to you and just jump to the moment.

The biggest mistake speakers make when telling a story is cluttering it with too many unnecessary (translated: boring) details. And we simply don’t care. Get right to the moment. Take out all extra details, all extra people, and bring it closer to home. Have it happen to you. Which is exactly what I did, and the reason the first story in this post is much better than the way it really happened.

The more disconnected you are with the story, the more disconnected we are.

As speakers you are paid to be engaging, not to tell the truth. Let go of this feeling that you have to tell the story exactly the way it went. I promise, it will make you better  and your audiences will love you more.

So instead of telling a story about this guy your husband once knew who had a friend, just tell me you once had a friend.

Simplify your stories for bigger impact.

Juggles The Clown by Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson

Okay, so this was like four years ago and three wigs ago – but here’s an example I dug up of a really short story that has a really big impact.


If you want to learn how to write your signature story, check out my Storytelling Master Class. Six 90-Minute Teleseminars taking you all stages of the story process.

Come in with an idea, leave with a masterpiece.

Click here to find out more about the Master Class.