What Makes Your Story Ideas Stand Out?

Posted by Elizabeth Levey
November 25, 2014

by Elizabeth Levey


elizabeth-levey-1What do all good story ideas have in common? Besides a compelling topic, they all have a very clear structure.  A good story has an undeniable beginning, middle, and end.  If these points aren’t clear to you as the storyteller, they sure as heck won’t be clear to your audience. 


We’ve previously discussed how audiences are 20 times more likely to remember a fact if it’s wrapped in a story. If all good stories follow a similar road map, which point can we highlight to make sure our story makes the most impact? Arguably, the most important stop on the story map is the Inciting Incident.  Without this, the story would not occur. An Inciting Incident is an event that throws life out of balance, that jolts the hero (you) out of everyday routine, that sparks the fuse of your plot and changes the course of events.  Inciting Incidents can come from anyone and anywhere, but you to have one for a successful story.


If you are telling a story within your business presentation, challenge yourself to raise the bar by creating an exciting Inciting Incident! Here are several types of Inciting Incidents you can work with when crafting your story for your presentation:


  • Nostalgic – tell a story about the past and appeal to your audience’s pride for glorious future.story-ideas-tell-a-story-day
  • Gathering Storm – try listing off some bad news (little clouds), which come together in a storm, creating sense of anxiety and impending doom for your audience.  This is especially effective if the climax and resolution of your story have a happy ending.
  • Evolution – talk about how the world is changing and you must keep up. 
  • Dare – appeal to your audience’s pride to by daring them to meet a difficult to attain goal.
  • The Great Dream – use this Inciting Incident to reveal your hopes and aspirations for the future.
  • New Info – tell your audience something they thought was true (maybe it is, maybe it isn’t), but that you’ve learned something new that changes everything. 


If you’re still struggling with creating an exciting Inciting Incident for your presentation, think of a favorite movie – what’s the Inciting Incident?  If there are multiple Inciting Incidents, pick first one that happens.  What type is it?  If listening to a presentation or speech, try to identify the Inciting Incident there. Then come back to your own material - what is your Inciting Incident in your presentation story? And better yet, how can you make it more exciting?


We’d love to hear your thoughts on ways to make your stories more effective.  Lay it on us in the comments box below!


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