Step One for Telling a Great Story: Make a Big Promise

The first step in telling a good story is to make a promise.  And if you want it to be a great story, it needs to be a big promise.

When you make a big promise, you’re setting an expectation in your listeners’ minds.  There is tension: “will she be able to fulfill the promise?”

That’s how “Law and Order” always starts. With a promise.

At the beginning of every show, someone (it seems to me like it’s always one of two kids playing basketball) finds a corpse.  That corpse is a promise. It’s a promise that says, “If you watch the show, we’re going to tell you everything there is to know about this corpse including who did it and why.”

You pay attention to the rest of the show because you want to experience the delivery of the promise.

In a business story, it’s the same. A good story starts with a big promise. “OK team, I’m here to talk about how we can all double our bonuses next year.” It’s a promise that the listeners are interested in.  The team then pays attention because they want to hear how the promise is fulfilled.

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