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12 Tips to Supercharge your Storytelling

If you’re reading this, you’re a storyteller. An expert storyteller, really. We know you constantly want to deepen your practice, improve your craft and finesse your best practices. That’s where we come in. The Storytellers Brand Studio is here to help by leveraging the insights and skills of USA TODAY Network journalists and traditional oral storytellers to help organizations and individuals change the world. Before you go changing the world with your great story, let’s talk goals.

We understand that you need to persuade: You need a bigger budget. You want to crush this RFP. You need to close this deal. And we can help. We use templates and worksheets to make sure we’re telling the right stories to the right audiences at the right times. And you can, too. Great stories require great planning. So prior to making a deck, a proposal or a talking points document, consider starting a brainstorming and research document. Use the following to get you going:

You’re going to need a lot of facts:

  • Consider what goals and values you share with your audience and make a list. All stories are really about communicating values. So what values does your idea celebrate or support?

  • What is the problem you’re solving with your idea?

  • What are data points that support your idea? This could be market research. This could be case studies. Three or so should do it.

  • What are likely objections and pain points? Usually it’s budget, timeline, personnel resources. Can you develop responses to these that are rooted in your shared values?

Now start putting your story together:


  • Acknowledge your audience and your happiness to be addressing them. Audience connection points go here.

  • State why you are there and what you will be talking about

  • Present overview of the idea, project, issue – this is the normal world BEFORE the investment or topic we are talking about started

  • Share the idea – as a solution/money/project


  • Data that supports the idea

  • Establish meaning and contextualize your conclusions

  • Acknowledge pain points, then solve for them with an idea/tactic or suggestion for each


  • Wrap up with an emphasis on recommendation based on data; remind them of the WHY we are doing this in the first place.

This is a primer outline for how to think through the research and the organization it takes to tell a truly compelling story. Of course, there are more details and nuance. The actual worksheet is six pages long, TBH. But we’re sharing this with you today to help you on your mission to connect more deeply with your audiences and change the world through storytelling. To learn what was in the whole six pages, or to just tell us your own story – reach out here:


About the Author

Megan Finnerty is a journalist and storytelling consultant. Essentially, she’s a professional listener, who likes to talk. It’s complicated. She’s the director of the Storytellers Brand Studio, which curates and hosts live storytelling events for brands and nonprofits. And she’s the founder and director of the Storytellers Project, a nationwide series of live storytelling events from the USA TODAY Network. She’s coached thousands of people to share true, first-person stories. She graduated from Purdue University, and was a news features reporter at The Arizona Republic for 14 years. She feels strongly about feminism, cocktails, and NPR, and prefers a bold lip to a smoky eye.

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