Elements of Storytelling To Bring Speeches To Life

Speaker incorporates the elements of storytelling

Good stories are built on plot, characters, setting, conflict, and theme, using elements of storytelling such as dialogue, description, suspense, humor, and tone. When creatively combined, the result is an engaging story for entertainment. The technique is useful in public speaking, marketing, and sales.

Storytelling is a form of communication that’s been practiced for centuries. It’s the art of sharing experiences with others in a manner that engages emotions and creates a connection between the audience and the experience.

The best speeches contain elements of storytelling.

What Is Storytelling?

A good storyteller can transport an audience to a different world through words and narrative. Whether oral or written, powerful storytelling will paint a picture in the audience’s minds, engaging their imagination.

At its core, compelling storytelling is a reflection of humanity. It allows us to share and teach complex feelings like love, loss, and hope and pass on knowledge in a memorable and meaningful way.

How Does It Engage The Audience?

A powerful story will engage an audience through a variety of strategies.

  • Word choice. The right words can create an emotional response that connects the audience to the story. Words help bring the audience into the story and connect them to the feelings being expressed. So, choosing words that are highly charged with and illustrative is a powerful tool.
  • Tone and delivery. In oral storytelling, variance in tone and vocal expression will engage an audience to keep their attention and punctuate certain areas of the story. In this way, a storyteller can manipulate the audience’s emotional state by creating anticipation, excitement, fear, happiness, or relief.
  • Body language. Movement during storytelling and the use of gestures can heighten the drama and impact of a story.
  • Visuals. Visual accompaniments can deepen a story’s message and augment the storyteller’s rhetoric.

What Are The 5 Elements Of Storytelling?

Storytelling conveys a message through characters, plot, and setting comprised of 5 essential elements.

The 5 elements of a story are:

  • Introduction of characters and motivation
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Conflict
  • Resolution


The characters refer to the individuals in the story who drive the narrative forward. Stories are most often told from the first-person or third-person point of view. Rarely are they told in the second person. Characters may be heroes or villains, protagonists or antagonists, but there’s always a main character whose point of view you follow.


The story plot is the sequence of events that occur in the story. This is commonly referred to as a story arc or narrative arc. The plot structure will include introducing characters and their motivations, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, sometimes called denouement. One of the most commonly seen plot progressions is the “hero’s journey.”


Setting refers to where and when the story takes place. It can be a physical location or a time.


Conflict arises when an obstacle prevents the protagonist from achieving their goal.


Resolution occurs when there’s a turning point, and this conflict is resolved.

These five basic elements of story structure work together to create a compelling narrative that engages readers or listeners emotionally and intellectually. A storyteller who’s mastered these important elements can create compelling stories that resonate with their audience and leave a lasting impression on them.

How is Storytelling Used In Speeches?

Storytelling is a common technique used in speeches. Storytelling allows a speaker to illustrate points and provide context for the audience in a way that connects with the audience on a personal level.

Using sympathetic and relatable characters and situations makes complicated concepts easier to understand and complex ideas more accessible to the audience.

A well-told and relevant story can make the listeners more receptive to the speaker’s message.

Make your speech come alive with the elements of storytelling

Why Is Storytelling A Useful Technique In Sales And Marketing?

In sales and marketing, storytelling is often used to make products or services more relatable. It can also help build credibility.

Making a product or service part of the story using real-life scenarios creates a personal connection with potential customers. In this way, businesses can showcase their services and overcome objections through stories that illustrate their effectiveness rather than just listing features and benefits.

In marketing, a great story will use a series of events to draw people in on a personal level and demonstrate a solution to a problem common to the audience. This process can give a business an edge over its competitors and make its products and services more memorable.

Using a story in a speech helps emphasize its main points.

How Can It Enhance A Brand?

A good story can build brand trust and loyalty.

Storytelling is a way of sharing company values and a feeling of authenticity that often resonates with customers. Creating a unique identity can also help a brand differentiate itself from the competition.

TV commercials often incorporate stories. Cheerios breakfast cereal used a gay couple and an interracial family in commercials to promote itself as a “wholesome, all-American, classic brand.” The subtext of the commercial that American families are a varied lot has people talking about a whole lot more than what to eat for breakfast.

Human interest stories in a speech or presentation evoke audience emotions much more effectively than painstakingly telling how oats are ground to make Cheerios.

How Can You Tell A Story With Data?

Data can be a powerful tool when used to tell stories. Effectively telling a story using data requires creativity, however.

By weaving data into the key elements of a story, you can capture people’s attention and bring awareness to the significance of the information presented.

Within the story, data can provide insights and illustrate relationships that help deepen understanding of complex information. Visuals can also be practical tools when incorporating data points into a story.

If you are speaking to a group of amateur pilots about safety, you can interweave statistics on crashes involving small planes, as well as examples of new safety systems for small aircraft.

What Are Some Examples Of Using Storytelling in Business

The best way to understand business storytelling is through examples of its effective use.

Many well-known companies have successfully used storytelling as a marketing technique. Two of the most notable are Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign and Coke-A-Cola’s “Teach The World To Sing” campaign.

Coke campaign told a story

Each employs literary devices to create a short story to successfully market their product. By the end of each campaign, viewers feel an emotional connection to the message and product, potentially motivating them to develop brand loyalty.

Lorin Harrott

After years as a professional speaker and corporate trainer,Lorin Harrott has turned her attention to sharing her knowledge through writing. She's currently a writer, photographer, and mom in Sacramento, CA, with occasional speaking engagements related to education and STEM topics in the public school system.

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