Public Speaking: How To Make Your Stories More Engaging

Recently, I was asked to put together a keynote talk on confidence for a corporate women’s conference. While I was reviewing my stories and polishing them up a bit, it occurred to me how important it is not only to tell stories – because we all know how important stories are for engagement and empathy – but also to rack up the tension by having something at stake.

So, next time you’re public speaking, instead of just recounting a simple story, you want to talk about how important it is for the main character to succeed and what’s at risk if things go wrong.

What makes your story more engaging when public speaking?

One of the stories I share is about a period I spent performing onboard a cruise ship. At the time I was incredibly excited because I was visualising a glamorous new life at sea.

I also shared the fact that to be chosen to do more cruises, I had to achieve a certain score from the audience assessment process. No score, no party. No more cruising!

Sharing what’s at stake during public speaking

I then share the ups and downs (literal – there were some big waves! – and figurative) of being on the ship. You want the audience to be on the edge of their seats because you want them to be as engaged and as interested as you possibly can. What’s at stake is my exciting new life…if I don’t get the score I need, it’s all over.

If you possibly can, as you go through the story, heighten the tension by sharing with the audience the risks and the potential benefits to you. That way they’ll be engrossed, and excited about the outcome.

Framework System

One of the most famous storytelling frameworks is “The Hero’s Journey”. It’s found in films like Star Wars and The Lion King. There’s always something at stake and the situation gets worse before it gets better. If you’re interested in reading more about “The Hero’s Journey” framework, you can find it in any good storytelling book and it also gets a mention in “How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking” or you can just Google it.


Remember that when you’re storytelling, you want to heighten the tension by having something at stake, having the situation get worse and sharing with the audience what’s in it for you if you do manage to succeed, and what the implications are if you don’t.

Make sure they really understand the importance of the central event in your story. Get them involved and let them feel the tension build as you journey towards the climax of your tale.


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your business:

1 – Get my free guide – 27 places to find speaking opportunities.

Find out where your next speaking opportunity might come from – whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced speaker.

2 – Join my Facebook Group – Public Speaking for Female Coaches and Entrepreneurs.

Join us for tips, discussions and community!

3 – Join my group coaching program – Get Clients with Speaking in 60 Days.

This is a comprehensive online course for coaches and entrepreneurs who want to build their business with speaking. You’ll find thorough advice on how to become a competent public speaker as well as how to develop a marketing system to grow your business, make a greater impact and earn more cash. It also includes live workshops, Q&A calls and lots of fun bonuses.

4 – Find out about my VIP Days and private coaching.

Book me for a VIP half or full-day session if you want to make some serious progress! We could help you create a business networking strategy and perfect your pitch. Or we could work on your signature talk so that audience members or hungry to work with you. Or we could explore frameworks and strategies to help give you confidence whether you’re speaking at conferences, in meetings or at other events. Or more!!