The One Thing Every Great Storyteller Does Right

Minute Read

shiny object marketing

The email you never want to get – your website has been compromised. I can’t breathe; this can’t be happening again; disbelief is blooming like a mushroom cloud as building my site all over again looms in my mind.

This is the worst thing ever; I wanted to cry.

The time and effort to build my website were paid for in sweat and tears, agonizing over the words, images, and framework.

What is wrong with these people who want to ruin my life by hacking my little website? I am furious.

I immediately contacted my hosting company, leaving them a message to call me about the email they sent me. I’m still anxious thinking of everything that is involved in rebuilding my site, ugh.

The time and energy I have to devote to this. Mentally I’m retracing my steps to publish my site again, and it’s all kind of fuzzy.

Has this happened to you?

This isn’t how I planned to spend my day, devoted to fixing my ‘store.’ It feels like someone has burned down my business.  The doors are closed for visitors.

This situation sucks.

While waiting for the callback, I look inside my hosting account, desperately searching for answers to solve this disaster immediately. I want to fix this like my hair’s on fire, fast. But I don’t see anything wrong.

I thought I’d done everything right. I have all the best plugins and hosting service. Since the last time, I’ve done everything possible to lock it down.

I vowed I never want to rebuild from the ground up again. Even the backup files were corrupted. The bridges had been burned.

Isn’t that what we all do once burned?

My phone rings, the caller ID says spam risk-ugh; I don’t need that now. But I answer it anyway and so glad I did. It’s my hosting company calling to help through this disaster.

He starts out talking about my email and why I got it. He’s giving me all sorts of background information; meanwhile, I’m still holding my breath. It seems like five minutes have passed when he finally tells me my website is fine, and he’s fixed it. It’s back up, no problems found. (Talk about a false positive)

My mind is blown!

I laugh and tell him – hey, man, what a way to bury the lead. If only he had opened our conversation with the good news when it struck me, how many times do you bury the lead when you’re telling your story?

How to Structure Your Story

It doesn’t matter if you’re telling a story to your friends, a joke, hosting a webinar, doing your TED talk, or your sales presentation; how you structure your story is critical.

You’ve probably been forced to listen to a presentation that is so dry and boring that you can hardly stay awake.

Or the headline for the webinar that you’ve tuned into sounds impressive, but the presentation is actually a snooze feast.

Likewise, you’ve tuned into a TED talk that is so interesting you’ve forgotten what time it is. You just want to binge out on more of the same, and you can't wait to share it with all your friends.

So, what makes the difference?

You’ve got to hook your audience at their highest pain point in your emotion-packed presentation. You have to dive into their story; what is the pain point they’re living in right now?

Did I lose you at the ‘emotion-packed’ presentation?

What is your favorite movie? Did it start with the hero struggling with a big fat problem? A problem is so big that their life is not worth living unless it’s resolved. Did you mentally jump ahead trying to figure out how in the heck are they going to get out of this mess?

I do that all the time. How do they fix this life-altering problem?

In my website story, you’re entering the story at the highest pain point. You’re joining me when I’m traumatized to learn my website has been hacked.

If you’ve ever had this happen, you know the feeling. Or, if you’ve feared this might happen, you can commiserate. Either way, you’re wondering what happens next.

The Highest Point of Tension

When you get this right, opportunities abound.

I could have started the storytelling by sharing how my morning started; I was having my morning cup of coffee (even showing you a picture of it), then powering up my computer and reading through all my emails – when my jaw dropped as I read the subject line: Your website has been compromised. (this is better in a visual setting, like a movie, where you lead up to the punchline)

While that would work, it doesn’t deliver the punch as the original.  When you start with the highest tension possible, you’re hooking your audience. Our brain loves to figure things out.

The same is true for clickable headlines. You love them or hate them, but they work. They take a simple idea and turn it around to elevate your curiosity.

My Google newsfeed gives me these terrific curiosity examples.

Is Prince Andrew Really the Queen’s Favorite Child?

Obviously, the Queen isn’t going to divulge that to the world as we all know she’s a private person. But the headline is making me wonder - is he.

How to Get Wealth and Abundance to ‘chase you’ according to Deepak Chopra

He gives the typical advice on saving money and lessons on being wise he learned from his mother. If you didn’t have his mother, you missed out – or not, you can read the article.

This 134-Year-Old Pocket Watch Has Kept a Family Secret for 5 Generations

That is a gem for sure. I want to know what those secrets are. Even if it doesn’t change my life, I’m curious about their family secrets.

Storytelling Tips

Think laser-focused curiosity to kick off your story. What is the highest point of tension to invite the audience into your story? Take your time to reflect on the sequence of events. How did it make you feel; mad, happy, anxious, hysterical, envious?

Hook your audience with an emotional payoff. The truth is our emotions drive our lives.

I’m obsessed with listening to classical crossover music on Pandora while writing. It doesn’t matter if Josh Groban is singing Italian or not; it moves me – as a result, I turn it up LOUD (while wearing headphones). There’s an unknown emotional connection that speaks to me. 

The same reason we love the music we grew up with. It takes us back to our fond memories. And the reason it's played in TV commercials aimed at a specific demographic.

It's often said that we make decisions on emotions and justify them with logic. That’s the ONE BIG idea for you.

The Next Steps

As a copywriting consultant, I love to review articles, content, and stories to drive the readers' message home. When you’ve got to sell it without clubbing the audience over the head, with the right emotional impact, then you need me to look it over.

Getting the emotional effect on point is like a cake recipe; it needs the right amount of emotional payoff, values, and flow to keep your audience with you until the end. You've got to have the right ingredients to make the cake do its thing in the oven and taste like heaven on a fork.

In summary:

Storytelling is about connecting with your audience. Even getting your next joke across, so people laugh with you, not at you, is a win. Always give more.

If you'd like to chat about your next project, reach out at

 Linda James Bennett; day 45 of 365 writing an article every day and making you a shiny object in the world.

Linda James Bennett is obsessed with creating clear brand messages to help business owners win online. She believes that marketing shouldn't be complicated to be great. Let's face it, as a business owner you need to focus on the bottom line that drives sales, not being a copywriter. She is also an author of the book, Becoming A Seriously Happy Special Needs Mom ~ 21 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place, on

Linda James Bennett

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