Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling in public speaking

Storytelling is one of the most appreciated arts in public speaking. If you do a quick search for tips in the area, you’ll always find “tell a story” as one of the most important.

Since ancient ages, human beings have used stories to transmit information and knowledge. Also, to connect. The emotion contained in a story establishes a connection that no data presentation can. That connection makes important points memorable and emphasizes the message to the recipient.

Stories are always good to introduce controversial or difficult topics. They encourage people to actively thinking about what they’re listening to and motivate them. In addition, a good story will make your audience more open to what is being said. So you want to make it right.

Do’s – Good practices for perfect storytelling

A good story catches your audience’s attention and makes them feel something. It needs to make an impact, and for that, there are a few good practices that will turn your story into the perfect one.


Telling good stories is amazing, and there is always that one which is fun and always works… with your friends. When choosing a story to put in your speech, avoid the temptation of selecting simply the funniest ones. They need to be relevant for the topic and your audience.

Stories are supposed to reemphasize your message, not simply make the audience laugh.

Keep it simple

Your stories should be short and straightforward – easy to understand. Eliminate details that are not relevant for the context or make the story harder to follow. On the other hand, do not fill stories with too many characters, events, or details.

The way we understand a story is deeply related to our ability to connect with it. Make it easier for your audience to be involved in what you’re telling by including familiar elements – for example, people and places.

Find a goal

Why do you want to tell that story? What do you want your audience to take from that?

Being related to your topic isn’t always enough to make your story relevant. It should always have a lesson or transformation in it. Your story needs something that your listeners can relate to and benefit from.

Body Language

A blank face with monotone speech will not bring your story to life. Instead, you need to use adequate body language and facial expressions for the context. This will make your story alive and convey emotions to your listeners.

Adjectives and Adverbs

The adjectives and adverbs are the elements that make your stories sound more interesting. So make sure to emphasize them.

Don’ts – What to avoid in your storytelling

Storytelling is the perfect technique when used correctly. Yet, there are a few mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to harm your presentation.

A wooden desk with a laptop, coffee, and a card with the word Avoid written on it

Don’t over do it

Do not tell story after story on the same topic. One story is enough, but you can tell two if they are genuinely relevant. Like most things in life, moderation is the key.

When you tell successive stories, each will have less and less impact on your audience.

Don’t use terms your audience doesn’t know

The stories must be relevant to your audience. They are supposed to have an impact on them. For that, your audience needs to connect, to relate. That won’t happen if you use terms they don’t understand or focus on situations that are way out of your audience’s experience.

Don’t memorize

You’re telling your stories, your experiences, or at least, something you heard about that had an impact on you. That’s the reason why you want to tell them. So, there is no need to memorize stories.

Learn them the way they make sense to you. You don’t need many details to cause an impact. Tell your stories as you feel them.

Storytelling brings presentations to life

Telling stories is part of who we are and how we learn. They are the simplest way to your audience’s heart, so use them wisely.

Find relevant, simple, and impactful stories to share. Make your audience feel something, and your stories will ignite your presentations and talks.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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