On Engaging Communication Pt. 2 – Storytell

This article is part 2 of 4 on engaging communication.

The first component that I’ll cover is the storytelling. It’s how you pack your message, in such a way that it invokes the feelings that you want from your audience. This is not a new concept, Nancy Duarte of Harvard Business Review already did a piece on the topic in 2012, but it’s amazing how people treat storytelling as if it’s rocket science, it’s not.

In essence, the issue with most presenters are that people see the presentation with only a single point of view, theirs. I’m not saying that this is wrong, but this needs to be supplemented with the audience’s point of view.

Telling people that they should do something doesn’t work.

You need to build a narrative to bring them to the right state of mind, easing them to do what you want them to do.

Remember from my first article, our interactions on weekends and weekdays feels different. What makes your weekend stories more engaging than your weekdays? Check out this framework!


To begin with, you should make it clear. Why should your audience care about your message? This can also be called a lede to your story. Merriam webster defined lede as

The introductory section of a news story that is intended to entice the reader to read the full story

Your lede should be short enough to not lose your audience in the middle, but long enough to make a clear point on why your audience should care.

On weekends this can be as simple as

  • “You’ll never believe what happened to me last week…”
  • “I heard you’re doing a coffee shop right? I just read a good research on it yesterday!”

These kinds of message starts with what the audience will get from our message, from our conversation. We can start applying this to our normal weekday interactions! Instead of “This is our agenda for today. I’m going to share with you about our Q3 performance” why not “Our Q3 results was not as good as we hoped. Let’s analyze how we can recover in Q4“.

Then you need to make it compelling to your audience. This means painting a vivid picture in your audience’s mind. This can be the picture of the situation, this can be the ideal version, the facts, or even the worst case. Here I give you a few samples on how you can make it compelling:

  • Examples
  • Research facts
  • Analogy
  • Metaphors
  • Personal experience story

A key word that I love to use during my presentation/speech is imagine. It is one of the most powerful word that I can use. By starting my presentation with an “imagine” scenario, I can ease the audience to step into another person’s shoes and to let them think in a different way.

For example, if you want to share about financial inclusion, you can start with something like this

Imagine you’re living in a world without banks. You don’t have debit cards, you don’t have credit cards, you don’t get corporate loans, you cannot transfer cash easily. This is the reality for 64% of people living in Indonesia.

After you are sure your audience can imagine your story, then you need to convince your audience of your credentials and the validity of your message. This is highly dependent on the context of the conversation and previously established credentials. If you’ve known the person well, this part should be minimal, maybe slight reiteration, but don’t dwell on it, otherwise you’re getting boring. For example, if you’re selling an IT solution, you should mention what other companies have used the solution, how it impacts them, what’s the measurable outcome, is there any ROI?

And your whole story must be concise. If part of it doesn’t support your overall point, you might as well not put that part in. This is harder than you would think. If you ask me to speak for an hour, I don’t need to prepare. If you ask me to speak for half an hour, give me one day to prepare. If you ask me to speak for 15 minutes, give me 3 days to prepare.

This framework can be applied to a myriad of situations. You can use it to talk with clients, you can use it to tell a  story to your friends, coworkers, whoever it is! Of course, even if you have crafted the best story in the world, there’s still 2 more components you need to watch out for, which will come in the next 2 articles!

Stay tuned!



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