Successful Storytelling Made Simple

January 14, 2019

So many women shy away from presentations.

The thought of getting up in front of a crowd is nerve-wracking.

It makes them feel exposed, subject to scrutiny and afraid to fail.

Valerie Gordon performing at Speak Up Hartford

Preparation + Practice = Presentation Success

I’ve been in front of audiences many times and yet still get sweaty palms. Knowing how to simplify your approach with a few simple steps will help you beat stage fright and ensure your message is heard.

(I use these all the time!)

I call it “The Four “C”s of Communication.”

But there’s actually a 5th step, an added bonus that naturally follows the first four.

Because I like alliteration, each step begins with the same letter.

  1. Stories should be CLEAR. Have you ever listened to a story and wondered what is its point? Before you jump into your story, consider WHY you’re telling it. The story should always be audience-centric. It doesn’t matter how good your story is its value isn’t clear to your listener.
  2. Stories should be CONCISE. The best stories leave the audience wanting more. It’s OK not to answer every question your audience may have during the story. The biggest mistake people make telling stories is taking too much time on exposition – the set-up of the story. It’s rarely necessary for every bit of the background to be understood before you get to the plot – and the point – of the story.
  3. Stories should be CONVINCING. Whether used as a marketing tool to persuade consumers or a personal device to get the job, land the sale or grow your network, stories need to convey meaning and importance. The point of the story needs to match up with the goal of telling it – HOW you want people to feel and respond after hearing it. Start with the end result in mind – what you hope to achieve by telling it.
  4. Stories should be CONVERSATIONAL. Storytelling is a tool to personalize processes, connect audiences with data or otherwise engage the listener. Populating your story with robotic and meaningless “corporate speak” or in an overly literary or flowery manner takes away from the key components of a great story. Your story should be authentic, relatable and generous to the audience. Keep it real.

Ensuring your story and the message behind it is clear, concise, convincing and conversational buys you that 5th C:


In the telling of your story you’ll make adjustments to fit your audience. Knowing how to do so – and with the repetition of practice – you’ll grow your confidence in your storytelling techniques.

Start with your Why. Use the 4C method as your How.

Happy Storytelling.

Valerie Gordon is an award-winning television producer, lifelong storyteller and the founder of career and communications firm Commander-in-She. She helps clients – women and men alike – Take Command of their success and satisfaction at work through the power of storytelling. Visit for information on her corporate presentations and conference workshops.

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