Knowing When, Why, and How Much


Storytelling is like garlic. Delicious to many. An allergy to others. And to the vast middle—easy to overdo.

Experienced presenters and facilitators typically have a bevy of stories in their quiver, ready for the shooting. Storytelling is an important competency that can bring vision, leadership principles, and business lessons to life like no other medium. It can also become a default style that quickly competes for (and distracts from) your credibility.

Like any skill or strength, it can become a weakness if overused. To those of us with superb stories, we know to judiciously season them throughout. Better yet, consider pulling back considerably and allow participants’ stories to flow more freely. A mature facilitator can have their tried-and-true story teed up, ready to bring down the house, only to pull back when one from the group is “good enough” to make the same point. Delivering your well-rehearsed tearjerker after one from the audience will likely eclipse anything they could muster and portray you as a grandstander.

Think about it. Who’s the star: you or them?

Separately, keep polishing your stories, because they’re as important as garlic is to spaghetti. FranklinCovey’s friend and communication expert Nancy Duarte recommends that you include these three components to craft amazing stories:

  1. Reminding people of the status quo.
  2. Revealing a path to a better way.
  3. Setting up a conflict that needs to be resolved.

Some additional points to consider:

  • Be certain your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
  • Tell the truth. Be cautious about taking too much “artistic license.”
  • Your stories must land a point, ideally the exact point you’re discussing before or after the story.
  • Rehearse your stories so they land gracefully and with impact, but be mindful of becoming too rehearsed.
  • Vary the star of your story—don’t make them all about you. 

Do your presentations connect? Design and deliver compelling presentations. Attend a complimentary Presentation Advantage webcast.

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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