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“Good storytelling is more science than art”

JUNE 15, 2017

Rather than natural talent, telling a good story involves a reliable and repeatable process for grabbing your audience’s attention. Let Esther Choy, author of the book Let the story do the work, walk you through her method that will lead to better business storytelling. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a born storyteller. Most of us aren’t.

Storytelling is now being applied to a broad range of modern communications. This includes pitching. “Many entrepreneurs consider storytelling to be the mysterious domain of a chosen few,” Esther Choy says. “Yet storytelling clearly produces measurable results.”

Cognitive psychology shows that information is up to 20 per cent more memorable when delivered as a story. Neuroscientists have demonstrated that listeners’ brains start to mirror the storyteller’s. That’s why “While natural ability helps, crafting good stories is a repeatable and reliable process,” according to Choy.


The stories that grip us most are stories in which tension increases incrementally, “as the hero faces a stressful challenge that demands the audience’s total attention”.

The good news is that this means there is a tool for creating absorbing plots. “That tool is the three-act story,” Choy says. And it looks like this:

Act 1: Scene, or hook,

Act 2: Journey, setback, new challenge, or climax,

Act 3: Resolution, or take-away

Choy illustrates the three-act story by sharing the examples of The Sound of Music and an “Embrace Life” commercial.


She ends by saying that stories don’t have to end happily ever after. “Open endings work well when you want to engage your audience in discussion or reflection,” she says. But, “endings where everything resolves are best when you want to be sure you’re communicating a clear message,” she adds.

Read the full article

“Good storytelling is more science than art”, on The Virgin Group’s website.