top of page

Three Reasons Why you should always start with a story

I was a tiny three-year-old girl in a children's ward, surrounded by other beds. My parents had to leave me there at a tender age for one of my many cleft palate surgeries. They bought me two new books: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and a book about a boy having a tonsillectomy. I don't remember being scared about staying in the hospital alone. All I remember is my two new books. This is my earliest memory.

After reading this newsletter, I'll bet you'll remember my hospital story.

My clients--both past and present--know this about me:

I love to start with a story.

The best speeches, articles, sermons, and blog posts begin with a story. Fiction writers know they should "show and not tell." That's what stories do.

Here are three reasons why you should always start with a story:

  • You immediately capture your audience's attention. We are on information overload. The average person is exposed to 2,500 ads each day, 150 ads per hour. If you don't grab your readers' attention in the beginning, you'll lose them. A compelling, relevant anecdote draws them in.  

  • Your audience is more likely to retain what you say. Humans' brains are uniquely wired for story, distinguishing us from even our closest evolved primates. Think about movie or novel plots crystal clear in your mind. Fundraisers know people are more likely to donate when they hear a single story of one impoverished person struggling to feed her family rather than statistics of hunger and poverty.

Stories make the facts stick.
  • A story humanizes you, especially when you're trying to persuade or educate. I helped a client prepare for a presentation where she would pitch her skills for a project. I suggested she start out with a story so her audience could get to know her. She came up with a wonderful story that demonstrated how she works and what she values. The story grabbed her audience's attention and appealed to their brains' desire for story.

You can even use stories when writing a proposal or cover letter...once when I helped a team prepare a presentation for design of a park with ball fields, I suggested each of the presenters start by sharing a childhood sports memory.

No matter the communication mode, you can tell a story to cement your message.

Read my article on "10 Steps to Readable Communications" for more tips on improving your messaging.

Let me know if you can use help with communications, marketing, or leadership.

I help purpose-driven professional services firms and organizations avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text.

Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified woman-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.


bottom of page