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Tell stories


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Sustaining the conversation > Tell stories

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Tell a story of some sort. It can be a personal story, a story from a friend or something from elsewhere, such as from television or magazines.

The key with stories is in the storytelling. Bring it to life for your audience. Put yourself into the story and bring them with you. Take on the emotions of the story: if it is an exciting bit, be excited, if it is sad, look sad, and so on (but beware of overdoing it!).

Start the story well. Create a hook that draws the other person in and then keep feeding them interest to sustain their interest and enjoyment. End well too, with a punchline and closure of the key story tensions.

You can elaborate on the story to make it more interesting, but do be truthful when appropriate and always maintain your integrity.

Make the story relevant to the other person. Show how what happened to you is connected to them and their experiences.

Do swap stories, but beware of annoying the other person by playing one-upmanship, telling stories that show you to be superior and hence downplay the other person.


You know that reminds me of the time I was arrested and imprisoned. It all started the night I was mugged and left dazed on the streets of New York...

My brother tried that too and, well, it was so funny, he thought he could ... ... and then she pushed him back in the pool, turned around and walked away without a word!

I heard a very sad story on the news last night about a couple who...


Stories can be used to empathize, explain, entertain and teach other people in a way that is interesting and engaging. We live our lives as a story and may think of it this way. Stories are thus easy to interpret and from which meaning can be easily created -- often far more so than some abstract description.

Stories can be told as extended metaphors, using the content of the story as an allegory or representation of some other topic that is difficult to discuss, such as a romantic break-up or inappropriate behavior.

Stories also may take more or less time, depending on what you want to do. If you have a lot of time to kill, you can extend the story, whilst if you want to make a simple point, you can tell the bones of the story in a very short period.

See also

Storytelling, Bonding principle, Metaphor

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