Sunday, July 28th

Everyone in attendance at Elevate is a storyteller of some kind. But only one will be the BEST storyteller at the opening night storytelling competition.

The theme is 'The Bounce Back' – stories of failure, redemption and lessons learned.


This evening is going to be awesome. And I’ll be your emcee again this year. I’m Megan Finnerty, the founder and director of the Storytellers Project, a nationwide series of live storytelling nights from the USA TODAY Network. I literally host storytelling shows for a living, so working with all you ringers is very exciting.
We want stories about professional misadventures, plans gone awry and the hustle it took to move forward, save the project or just save face. The show is a fast-paced, funny and compelling way to get to know your fellow attendees and to showcase your personal style – your sense of humor, your sense of perspective and your values.
The values part is the most important, for making the most of your time at Elevate, and getting the most out of your connections back at work. All stories communicate values. Nestled in those beginnings, conflicts, climaxes and catharses, is a message about who and what we think matters most in life. And this, it turns out, is what makes people want to work with us.
The challenge is – oral storytelling is not like all other mediums, so here are a few tips to get you started:

All stories are about change:

You change the way you think, or do something, or how you think and function.

If nothing changes – if you don’t learn something or do something in a new way – you have an anecdote. And those are great for dinner conversation, but not good for what you’re wanting to do.

These stories should answer the question:

What was a time you failed or messed up and learned a big lesson?


Great stories answer a lot of questions:

Who you are/want to be to this audience? 

What is your image? 

What tone or kind of story would suit this occasion?What is the story’s point or lesson or take-away?

How are you different now than when the story started? 

Where does everything happen? 

What does it look like? 

Who is there with you?

Things to consider:

Limit stories to 5 minutes to maintain audience’s attention.

Focus on the purpose and content of your story.

It should NOT be a life story

It should NOT be a career day story.

It should NOT be an accounting of everything that happened.

You do not owe the audience the WHOLE story/truth.

You owe the audience just enough so they can follow the narrative.

hosted by

Megan Finnerty