How To Be A Dynamic Storyteller

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Facilitator Masterclass Training 4

"Tell me a fact and I'll listen.  Tell me a truth and I'll learn.  But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." — Native American Wisdom

  • How to Be A Dynamic Storyteller

    Description:  When you facilitate, nearly everything you say will be communicated in the form of a story.  In this masterclass, you will learn the art of delivering dynamic, inspiring, and captivating stories. Learn the performance techniques of top entertainers and facilitators to ensure you always attract and hold the attention of the room.  We’ll look at the major elements of a story and the explore 5 types of stories you might use in your facilitation.  In addition we’ll go over the 4 elements that create a WOW story and the 6 major reasons stories often fall flat.

Examples of Dynamic Stories

The Big Secret Nobody Wants to Tell, Bruce Muzik TEDx

Bruce Muzik presents a riveting talk about the devastating impact that withholding secrets can have on our lives and what to do about it. You'll see the elements of tension and release..the title is mysterious and makes you wonder what the big secret is that nobody wants you to know.  There's emotional appeal and a counterintuitive but very wise lesson.  Enjoy!

Brendon Burchard

Start this video at 2:30 where Brendan Burchard tells you the story of what led to his awakening and ultimately him following his current passion.  Notice the emotional appeal of his story where he recovered from a traumatic experience.

Sheila Kelley, Let's Get Naked

Sheila Kelley, founder of S-Factor begins this talk with a dynamic and touching story of her childhood when she first discovered the shame inherent in our culture around a women's body.  There exists in every woman an Erotic Creature. When Sheila Kelley discovered this sleeping giant, her life changed irrevocably. She had stumbled upon what women were missing and launched it into a worldwide sensation, ushering in the 4th wave of feminism by teaching women to own their sexuality. Let's Get Naked is about exposing the truth and the Erotic Creature, both of which rest just beneath the surface.

Tony Robbins

In this short video with Tony Robbins he tells a funny and engaging story of someone inspired by his work...there's a good twist! Enjoy.   He's expressive, he's engaging, and he's funny.  Enjoy.

Masterclass Summary

  • Click the audio below to listen to the masterclass or download it to your device from the DOWNLOADS section below so you can listen on the go.  Each training contains Implementation Exercises and Reflection Questions to help you put this material into practice.  You’ll find the Transcript, Exercises, and Worksheets below.


    A story that is designed to engage people’s full attention and use a heightened emotional response to teach an important lesson.  Our memory and specifically our brain’s ability to recall details is correlated to the emotional intensity of the experience.   The memories that have very little emotional content are details we are most apt to forget and the memories that are incredible emotional for us (either positive or negative) are the kinds of memories we never forget.  As facilitators we use dynamic storytelling to create lasting change.  Much of what you say in the room will be forgotten within days or hours but the stories tend to live on in their lives.  The more we can heighten the experience, the more we can impact the listener.

    Telling stories is more than just recounting and sharing the events….it’s really about using the 4 Elements of a WOW story below that use well timed tension and release to create an emotional impression.


    1) Telling Them Like You Are Reporting The News:
    The most emotional stories are told as the story teller associates fully and imagines being back at that place in time and then describes his or her physical and emotional experience.

    2) Being Unstructured and Meandering Too Long
    dfIf the story has too many irrelevant details, or the storyteller gets lost…even if they are entertaining, you’ll lose the audience’s attention and they’ll begin to tune out.  Look for the structural elements of a story below and make sure you have each element represented.

    3) Characters or Situations The Audience Can’t Identify With
    If the characters in the story are dealing with problems and situations that the audience can not relate to, your audience won’t emotionally connect to the story.

    4) Unclear Context…A Story Without a Point
    If you’ve ever listened to a story and are wondering  ‘Why is this person telling me this?’ or ‘What am I supposed to be listening for?’ and that’s louder than the story then you’ll lose the attention of your audience as they are listening more to the questions in their own mind than listening to you.

    5) Having A Story that’s Too Predictable with No Surprises
    A powerful story should have some twists and turns, surprises and reveals otherwise it’s just plain boring.

    6) A Story Without An Ending…That Just Peters Out
    A story must have a beginning, a middle, and an ending which is critical if the story is going to feel complete AND the best endings leave your audience thinking and filling in the blanks for themselves about how it applies to their lives.


    1. Joke
    In facilitation the best humor is entertaining but should also demonstrate a point.

    2. Metaphors
    A metaphor makes either an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that are potentially far apart (in different contexts) but share characteristics.  Using appropriate metaphors appeals directly to the senses of the listener, sharpening their imaginations.

    3.  Fairy Tales/Fables
    A story based on a fantasy with a clear moral.

    4.  Therapeutic Story
    A story designed to have a specific therapeutic benefit for the audience. Note: Erickson healing a man who had no use of his arm simply by putting him in a trance and telling him stories of a tree with a broken limb slowly healing itself.

    5.  Anecdotes
    A story about a real event that happened to either you or someone else that reinforces a lesson or main point.  These include things like credibility stories, hero stories (a story where someone transforms and does it ‘right’), and dunce stories (a story from your past where you did it wrong).


    Characters – Someone who takes part in the action of a story

    Setting – The time and place in which it happens.

    Plot – The series of events and character actions that relate to the central conflict.

    Conflict – The struggle between two opposing forces usually involving a protagonist (main character or hero) and the antagonist (villain, forces of nature, society, opposing circumstance, or even something inside him or herself like their feelings, emotions or an illness)

    – The reason you are telling the story, or the main lesson the listener is supposed to get out of the story.  This includes the purpose (why you are telling the story, the indicated action (what you want them to do).  Remember the 4 components of a clear story (You think…., But really…., If you just…., Then you’ll get….)


    #1 TENSION & RELEASE This is about building emotion through the tension that gets created when you conceal and then reveal.  Both the amount you conceal and build up of mystery, and the timing of the resolution is an art that will have your story telling being dynamic.

    Here are some ways to create tension and release:

    a) Start with the end and then jump to the beginning. You build the story backwards because there is tension from not knowing or concealing the details to the story

    EXAMPLE: “the night my best friend died, it began when I dropped my phone in the toilet.”

    b) Leave out a crucial detail and bring it back later. The mystery of why things are unraveling in the story will cause curiosity with the listener

    EXAMPLE: “now mind you, this conference room was on the 67th floor, so when he said ‘just take the stairs’ he really meant, ‘you’re fired’.

    c) Foreshadowing:  Let the audience in on important or dangerous information that the characters don’t know or that you didn’t know at the time.

    EXAMPLE Hitchcock called this storytelling device “the bomb under the table” meaning that the people sitting at the table don’t have any idea about the bomb that the audience can see, thereby creating tension. “So I had the entire conversation in the worst cobbled together French, not knowing of course that he spoke perfect English the entire time.”

    d) Create tension by slowing down the action and becoming more descriptive with of the details. When you stretch out the experience of something – you will always create more tension, because when you focus in on something, at the same moment, you are aware that you are not able to observe the bigger picture.

    EXAMPLE: This is a way they build tension for horror movies, narrowing the visual field and slowing everything down.

    #2 EMOTIONAL APPEAL: Here are 3 ways to create emotional appeal

    a) Children who are “too” wise/smart/talented for their age

    EXAMPLE: and then the little girl said, “why don’t you just love yourself? then what they say about you can’t hurt your feelings!”

    b) When the main character passes up personal gain for a more important value

    EXAMPLE: “So then he walked up to his boss and said, “no sir, you can keep the money. I’m just happy to do my part to help these people.”

    c) When any character recovers from great disadvantage

    EXAMPLE: “Even after falling down in the first ⅓ of the race, she got back up and ran as fast as she could…passing all the other runners one by one until she one the race”

    #3 EXPRESSIVE INFUSION:  Expressive infusion deals with the way you deliver a story – it’s in the presentation of it – and the dynamic use of your voice and body.  There is certainly no one way to deliver a story expressively, but in fact, range and shifting to emphasize parts of the story will make it very dynamic.

    Three ways to be more dynamic as a story teller through expressive infusion

    a) Use voices and expression.  Step into the character and tell the story from their voice and expression you can use voices, expressions, etc. Robbin Williams was genius at this, and is worth watching some videos to get familiar with that technique. You don’t need to be so dramatic of course, but switching into characters in a story is very powerful.

    b) Use your body to engage physically in the story:

    –  Draw out the story in the air with your hands
    –  Use your voice to express more theatrically – you don’t need to be a clown or over actor – but performance coaches work with presenters on how to emphaise the story by using their voice and body to bring more visual expression of the story. When using a mic, you can pull it closer to you, cup your hands over it, etc to change the experience.

    c) Use space more intentionally.  You can create stage anchors where u stand in a specific place while teling certain parts of the story. For example, every time you talk a certain character, you can stand in a certain place. or if you chose a spot in the room for each time you give a lesson or your indicated action, that will continue to visually anchor the audience to that spot for the context of your story. This will allow you to trigger and retrigger emotions and actions for the audience. Also moving around the room to engage with the audience is a powerful way to keep the audience engaged with you.

    #3 HAVING A COMPELLING LESSON: Here are 3 ways to make a lesson more compelling

    a) Make it hyper relevant to the audience’s present moment experience

    EXAMPLE – “right about now you are thinking wow this seems hard – which is why I’m going to tell you a story about just how easy this can be”

    b) Reinforce all 4 clear story elements

    EXAMPLE – “You think…But really… If you just… Then you’ll get…”

    c) Take a compromise (an either/or) and show how it can be a both/and

    EXAMPLE – “you’ve probably thought that you have to choose between opportunities that can make you a lot of money and opportunities for you to live your life’s passion. Here’s a story about someone who discovered what I now know, which is that hidden in your life’s passion is the greatest money making opportunity of all.”

  • Implementation Exercises

    The key to getting value from any endeavor resides in your willingness to integrate what you are learning and implement it in your life.  All new thought and new ideas are useless unless we act upon them.  The same is true in this course.

    If your goal is to be the kind of person that catalyzes change for others it will require you to step just outside of what’s known and what’s comfortable to act as you breathe and accept the challenges that lie before you.

    “You can’t cross a sea by merely staring into the water.” — Rabindranath Tagore

    As you begin to create your content for a group facilitated experience, you’ll need to begin with determining which clear story you plan on presenting and then adding engaging and transformational elements to that clear story. Complete the exercises below to create your content for a group facilitation.  If you are using RECODE content to become a RECODE FACILITATOR then much of this work is done for you and it’s a matter of learning and practicing it.  You’ll find that information in the RECODE WORKBOOK.
    Please note as a professional if you end up using our RECODE content in your non RECODE events please attribute us and this program.  Do not replicate our material without attribution.
    1) Start by choosing the PURPOSE of your story. Is it to teach something? Establish your credibility? Make people feel good about their situation? Invite people to take a strong directed action?
    2) Then pick the specific INDICATED ACTION or EMOTION that you want the audience to do, believe, or feel after hearing the story.
    3) Chose an event in your life where you either A) had a bad outcome because you didn’t take the indicated action (dunce story) or B) had a great outcome because you chose the indicated action (hero story), even though most other people might not have.

    4) Write down the essentials to the following elements: Characters, Setting, Plot, Conflict. Theme/lesson (list the basic one and then you will make it more powerful in the next step)

    5) Chose one element from each of the 4 domains of the WOW Story telling tool box:  Tension and Release, Emotional Appeal, Expressive Infusion, Compelling Lesson

    6) Fill in the content using these factors from Step 4 and 5

    7) Deliver it 5 times to people in different situations calibrating for what changes are necessary (where is it too long, boring, not powerful enough, etc)

    8) Calibrate.  To calibrate – look at the eyes and face of your audience. Are they engaged? distracted? do they want to interrupt? Are they shifting their weight or tapping their hands/feet? These are all signs that you’ve lost a part of their attention and that part of the story is either unneccessary or off base.

  • Self Reflections

    Reflections exercises are one or more questions that we’d like you to be in deep consideration of for the entire week.  These are meant to be shared with your family, friends, and community so that they can offer you a more complete 360 view of yourself, your identity, and your reality.

    Everyone has blind spots.  These are areas where we are less developed that are outside our view.  Getting reflections will point out things that you might not ever know yourself.

    In addition, the more you consider these reflection questions the more likely you’ll be able to break through your current level of thinking and use the exercises to leap frog into a new level of consciousness.

     Here is this weeks self reflection question.

    1)   What did you notice about your own relationship to the listener as you told a WOW story? How did the quality of your interaction change?

    2)   What did you experience about your relationship to your own ability to engage and influence others when using the WOW story telling techniques?

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