Improve Your Business Story Ideas by Building the Mystery

Posted by Elizabeth Levey
January 8, 2015

by Elizabeth Levey


Here at Ovation, we talk a lot about storytelling for business. Why is that again? Oh yeah, because your audience is 20 times more likely to remember a fact if you wrap it in a story! And why is that? Because stories connect us emotionally to our audience – human to human.  And when we’re able to connect in that way, our content instantly becomes more memorable, even if it’s dry or technical by nature. When you include a personal story, your presentation is no longer simply boring data.  Your personal stamp shines through, and your audience is impacted in a much more meaningful way.

Use Rising Action to Build the Mystery

When we develop our business story ideas, we follow along on our six pointed story map, andPresentation-skills-training-storystructure we come to a moment known as the rising action. What is this, you ask? The rising action is simply the key action (or actions) leading to the climax of your story. They help you build the mystery of your story, and keep your audience hooked.

Three is Key

We recommend including three key actions when developing this part of your story. Storytelling loves groups of three.  “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, “The Three Little Pigs”, to name a few examples.  If you have at least three key actions within your rising action, you’ll have a firm stairway leading toward your story’s climax.

Forwards Keep it Moving

How can you prevent your rising action from simply being a laundry list of  “and then this happened, and then this happened”?  As the storyteller, you can shape your rising action by using forwards.

Forwards are simply small groups of words that you (as the storyteller) can latch on to and manipulate with pitch, volume, and pauses.  The goal of forwards?  To have fun! To color your story. They are meant to help draw in your audience and pull the action of the story forward.  Think of sitting around a campfire, telling ghost stories. The storyteller is almost always coloring his rising action using forwards: he often uses a slow pace, a low vocal pitch to highlight phrases like “deep in the dark forest”… all so he can abruptly change and scare the pants off you when the story reaches its scary climax!

So as you continue to develop your business story ideas, try incorporating these techniques into your rising action. They will surely help you with structure when writing, and with performance when rehearsing.  Your efforts will ensure that your story is clear and concise, but also fun and interesting.  And everyone loves a good story!

Story Ideas for Presentations


overcoming stage fright

Ringing Phone

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