There are a few things that you should avoid doing when telling stories, as they could either get you in trouble, are unethical, or are just poor ideas that will make your audience feel mad, bad, or sad.

In this post we'll explore what these things are, how they make your audience feel, plus what to do instead.


The Golden Rule of Storytelling: Honesty is the Best Policy!

Ever thought of spicing up a story about real folks with a bit of creative licence? Tempting, isn't it? But let's face it: weaving a web of tall tales is about as effective as a chocolate teapot.

Keep It Real: No Tall Tales Here!

1. Avoid the Fib Fiasco

Imagine this: you're in full flow, embellishing a tale about your mate Dave's escapade with a runaway llama. It's all fun and games until someone who actually knows Dave (and the llama) calls your bluff. Awkward!

2. The Lie Detector Audience

People have a sixth sense for sniffing out fibs. You might think you're the next Shakespeare, but in reality, you're more like Nigel Farage on a dodgy reality TV show about to be voted off.

3. Borrowed Stories? Give Credit!

Found a cracking story that's not yours? Tip your hat to the original raconteur. It's like borrowing your neighbour's lawn mower – you wouldn't claim you built it yourself, would you?

How to Stick to the Truth and Still Be the Life of the Party

You don't need to invent a wild adventure with space aliens to keep your audience hooked. It works when you're in primary school, but not when you're supposed to be adulting. Here's how to keep it honest yet compelling:

  • Emphasise the Quirky Bits: Real life is stranger than fiction. Focus on those odd, funny truths.
  • Keep It Relatable: A story about your trip to the supermarket can be a hit if it's something everyone's experienced.
  • Practise Your Delivery: Sometimes, it's not the story, but how you tell it. Work on that timing!

So remember, when it comes to storytelling, honesty really is the best policy. Keep your stories truthful, and you won't need to keep track of your tall tales. After all, nobody likes a storyteller who's all fur coat and no trousers!

Keep Your Stories on Track: Avoid the Detour of Doom!

Have you ever sat through a story that felt like a never-ending labyrinth? Where the teller hops from one tangent to another, like a hyperactive rabbit in a field of interesting anecdotes? Well, that's a one-way ticket to Snoozeville for your audience!

Stay on the Storyline Superhighway

1. Avoid the Tangent Trap

Remember, veering off the main road of your story can lead your listeners into the dense forest of confusion. Suddenly, they're more lost than a tourist without Google Maps.

2. The Perils of Plot Detours

When you meander through multiple mini-stories, your main point becomes as elusive as a decent cup of tea in a coffee shop. Your audience is left scratching their heads, wondering, “What was this all about again?”

3. Keep It Snappy

Think of your story like a city bus tour. Stick to the highlights! Don't take a detour through every back alley of your mind. Unless it's Diagon Alley. You're allowed that detour.

How to Steer Clear of the Storytelling Scenic Route

Let's face it, no one wants to be that person whose story has more twists and turns than an episode of “Fool Me Once” on Netflix. Here's how to keep it straight:

  • Focus on the Finale: Your story is going somewhere, right? Keep that destination in sight.
  • Resist the Ramble: Feel an unrelated anecdote bubbling up? Keep it on the back burner for another time. Or, in my case, another blog post.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Rehearse your story. Know the key points like the back of your hand.

So there you have it, folks: keep your storytelling as straightforward as a motorway and as engaging as your favourite sitcom. Avoid the tangential trap, and your audience will follow you happily, without needing a breadcrumb trail to find their way back to the point!

The Delicate Art of Audience-Specific Storytelling

1. Know Your Crowd

Imagine recounting your epic night out. To your friends, it's a saga filled with laughter and mishaps. To your boss? It's a more subdued, “networking event” that accidentally went past midnight.

2. Tweak the Details

It's all in the details. For friends, maybe it was the five rounds of karaoke. For the boss, it's the fascinating chat you had with someone from your industry. Same night, different highlights.

3. Mind the Language

While your friends might appreciate the colourful language of your adventurous evening, your boss might not be as amused. Keep it professional and pleasant for work stories.

4. Respect the Boundaries

Always remember: what's hilarious in the pub might not be as funny in the boardroom. Gauge the boundaries of your audience and stay comfortably within them.

Why Bother Tailoring Your Tales?

Here's the thing: storytelling isn't just about entertaining. It's a tool for building rapport, trust, and understanding. By adjusting your stories, you're not just being considerate; you're being smart and strategic.

Examples from the Real World

Let's take a look at some scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: The Work Conference: You've got a tale about overcoming a challenge. For your workmates, it's about the struggle and the technical triumph. For your friends, it's about that hilarious mishap with the projector.
  • Scenario 2: The Family Dinner: Telling your family about a work achievement? Focus on the personal growth and the team effort. Your colleagues might hear more about the strategic planning and execution.

In each case, the core story remains the same. It's the focus that shifts.

Best Practices in Multi-Audience Storytelling

  • Be Authentic: No matter who you're talking to, stay true to yourself. Authenticity shines through.
  • Listen First: Gauge your audience's reaction. Are they engaged? Adjust accordingly.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: The more you tell your stories, the better you'll get at tweaking them on the fly.

So there you have it: the secret to keeping your storytelling fresh, appropriate, and engaging, no matter who's listening. Whether you're by the water cooler or at a family barbecue, remember these tips, and you'll be the life and soul of both parties – without mixing up your tales!

Finding Your Storytelling Sweet Spot: Just Right, Not Too Tight!

When it comes to storytelling and public speaking, striking the right balance in your delivery is like making the perfect cup of tea – not too hot, not too cold, just spot on. You don't want to be so mellow that your audience starts daydreaming about their shopping list, nor do you want to be so hyper that they're wondering if you've had one too many espressos.

The Goldilocks Zone of Storytelling

1. Avoid the Monotone Drone

If your storytelling voice sounds like you're reading the terms and conditions of an insurance policy, beware! Your audience might start practicing their best nod-and-smile while mentally planning their dinner.

2. Hyperactive? Reign It In!

On the flip side, if you're bouncing around like a rubber ball in a squash court, your audience might spend more time being bewildered than enthralled. It's a story, not a circus act.

Tips for Perfect Pitch and Pace

So how do you find that storytelling sweet spot? Here's a nifty little guide:

  • Match Your Energy to the Story: If it's a thriller, ramp up the suspense. If it's a sombre tale, keep it grounded.
  • Watch Your Audience: Are their eyes glazing over? Speed it up. Are they leaning forward eagerly? You're onto a winner.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Try your story out on a trusted mate or even your pet. If the cat stays in the room, you're doing something right.

Navigating Audience Interaction: Don't Be a Puppeteer!

Ah, the age-old dilemma of audience interaction – it's a bit like asking strangers to dance in public. Some speakers and storytellers, especially those who feel like a cat on a hot tin roof being the centre of attention, try to throw the spotlight onto the audience. It's a risky business, like playing hopscotch on a tightrope!

The Perilous Pitfalls of Forced Interaction

1. Avoid the ‘Awkward Ask'

You've seen it before – a speaker throws out a question expecting a tidal wave of responses, only to be greeted with the kind of silence you'd expect in a library's ‘no talking' zone. Cringe-worthy, indeed!

2. Read the Room

Let's face it, sometimes the audience just wants to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show without feeling like they're suddenly on a quiz show. Forcing participation can be as jarring as a jackhammer at a yoga retreat.

How to Gauge and Engage Your Audience

So, how do you walk this tightrope with the grace of a ballet dancer? Here are a few tips:

  • Feel the Vibe: Like a DJ reading the room, see if your audience is up for a boogie or prefers to just listen.
  • Use the ‘Soft Ask': If you want to involve them, try a gentle approach. Think more ‘Would anyone like to add?' and less ‘Come on, don't be shy!'.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: The more you speak or tell stories, the better you'll get at sensing when to encourage interaction and when to let your words do the talking.

Remember, while audience interaction can be the cherry on top of a great presentation, forcing it can be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Read the room, and you'll be sure to keep both your dignity and your audience's goodwill intact!

Sarah x


Sarah & Kevin Arrow

Sarah and Kevin Arrow have been in the thick of the online marketing world since 2006, and they're buzzing to share their know-how right here with you! If you're keen to get noticed, they're the experts you'll want to talk to. Why not schedule a call or send them a quick message? They're all ears and can't wait to hear from you!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Skip to content