The Secret Sauce to Small Talk

Jerry nervously walks down the hallway, clutching his backpack straps, sweat forming on his back as he steps into the elevator.

Second floor.

He whispers to himself, “You’re going to be okay, you’re going to be okay”.

Third floor.

He steps out, hands trembling, heart racing. He walks to his designated cubicle and to his dread he sees an unfamiliar face.

“Hey, nice to meet you!”


“Is this your first day too?”

“Um, uh…no actually, I’ve been here for 3 years”.


“Oh, that reminds me of a time when…”

…then, a story ensues.

Storytelling has been passed down from generation to generation, since most likely the dawn of time. I mean, without storytelling, how does one even know about all that has happened in the past?

IMG_5357.JPGWhen compelling enough, a story generates that desire to be present, listen, and absorbs the listener. In your conversations, telling a story is the easiest way to capture the attention of your listener. Ultimately it is your goal to be an excellent storyteller because telling a great story generates a great conversation.

As a quick lesson, a story contains an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and lastly, of course, the resolution.

Exposition: “Jonny realized he was late to the train to meet up with his girlfriend.”

Rising Action: “Jonny ran down the street to rent a bike, the bike, however, was not there. Instead, Jonny called an Uber pool, but it took too long. Worried, Jonny called an Uber X instead and had to wait another seven minutes for the Uber. As Jonny was in the car, his heart was racing.”IMG_4121

Climax: “As the Uber pulled up, Jonny ran out the door across the street to his train. He looked down at his watch, and sure enough, he made it in the nick of time.”

Resolution: “Jonny’s girlfriend gave him crap for being late, but then hugged him.”

The end. Best, story, ever.


Or, look at it in this in a different way from Peter Guber’s “Tell to Win”

CHALLENGE: Craft the beginning to shine the light on your challenge or problem.
STRUGGLE: Shape the middle around the struggle to meet that challenge.
RESOLUTION: End with a resolution that ignites in the listener you call to action.
Other elements that add fuel to your stories:
  1. Get your audience to step into your hero’s shoes.
    • Heroes come in all shapes and sizes-teller, listener, customer, product, location, and tribe; choose the hero that fits your goal.
  2. Lead from the heart, not the head.
  3. Employ the element of surprise.
  4. Successful stories turn “me” to “we”-align your interests!

Whenever I make speeches for my Toastmaster club, the most memorable ones were the ones that had a story in it. In my day to day conversations, I would always have something ready for any moment. Telling a story will catch someone’s ears much quicker than spitting out facts about things.

Have a story on hand. If you suck at stories, keep practicing!


Now go out there and tell stories! Everyone has a story.


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Thanks for listening/watching/reading! Stay tuned for more.

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