Once upon a time…

It was a dark and stormy night…

You won’t believe what happened…

If you’re human, you’ve heard these introductions many times.


Because we, as a species and society, have evolved and developed as storytellers. It’s our primary method for transferring knowledge from one generation to another, of making sense of present events and how we bond. From the cave paintings of France, to cuneiform of Babylonia, medieval scrolls and Up in 3D, humans have always told stories.

This ingrained sense for stories and storytelling can provide a powerful tool for businesses. Telling a story, rather than listing product or service benefits, relaxes recipients (clients or customers) and puts them in a state of attentiveness and receptiveness. It disarms barriers and allows you to more effectively convey your message.

But what makes a good story? We recently invited Laura Wexler, writer, teacher and co-founder of the Stoop Storytelling Series, to teach us the principles of a good story. Over a delightful Lunch ‘N Learn at our office, Laura shared her guidance on what makes for a great story, broken down into seven key elements.

And so without further adieu, here are Laura’s Top 7 Tips for Telling a Great Story:

1. The Story Should Matter – It doesn’t have to be a large issue for it to matter. But find the nugget of meaning and explain how/why that matters to you.

2. The Story Should Have Conflict – As a storyteller, you should be struggling to do something. This doesn’t have to be slaying a giant or saving a baby, but there has to be something overcome or accomplished.

3. The Story Should Be About Life, Not Story of Your Life – Unless you are writing a memoir or autobiography, a story should focus on a single episode or moment in time. The deeper the story goes, the deeper the connection you build with your audience.

4. The Story Should Be Honest – This goes beyond ethics. Humans, well most of us, have a finely tuned BS detectors. We know when a story doesn’t feel right or honest. Once we feel that, we ignore or actively dismiss any message we hear through the story.

5. The Story’s Power Lies in Connection – It’s not the words or characters that give a story its power. It’s the connection between storyteller and audience. Work to solidify that emotional connection and you’ll open their minds to receive your message.

6. The Story Should Paint a Picture – Sounds, smells, feelings, weather. These are all details that add to your story’s authenticity and help build connection to the audience. Reveal specific details that help to reinforce your message.

7. The Story Should Reveal Something – What’s the point of a story if you feel the same after listening to it as you did before it started? Storytelling reveals something, about the world, the teller or the listener, that makes the journey worthwhile.

Think you have what it takes to tell a good story? Want to improve? Let us help! The Abel Communications team can help you tell powerful stories that grab attention.

And if you’re interested in a story telling workshop with the fabulous Laura Wexler, we can help arrange that too – doing so often opens to door to deeper collaboration internally as well as great stories to share with the outside world. Feel free to drop us a line at info@abelcommunications.com.


Written by Adam Curtis – Weekdays, Adam Curtis is a mild-mannered account manager at Abel Communications. On weekends he transforms into a mild-mannered radio DJ. He also enjoys craft beer and cats.