Telling Your Story

Huge thanks to Barrie Hopson and Katie Ledger for flagging this great TED talk from Nancy Duarte.

Duarte uncovers the anatomy of a great talk, or speech, or presentation and – surprise surprise – it is the same structure as great story-telling anywhere: from the fairy-tales of childhood to the great myths of our ancestors to the most celebrated movies of our own time.

This structure at its three-part simplest is, as Duarte has it:

  • Likeable Hero
  • Encounters Roadblocks
  • Emerges Transformed

It was wonderfully elaborated by Joseph Campbell in works like The Hero With a Thousand Faces and brought back to a practical writer’s level in Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey.  Essentially, it is about dynamics and about structure: building tension and then resolving it.  It works in every scenario and it needs to used much more in business scenarios.

Watching the video reminded me very much of Peter Guber’s excellent Tell to Win which was published last year.  Some of his themes were covered in an  HBR video interview with him that I blogged here.  The book is entertainingly self-effacing and revelatory.  In essence he is saying tell a story, in this form: problem, struggle, resolution.

A final insight for story-tellers:

I am indebted to novelist Adrienne Dines for her insight that the purest essence of story-telling is encapsulated in Eric Hill’s classic book, Where’s Spot



Every writer should have a copy on the shelf next to the Writers Journey and The Economist Style Guide.


About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (
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One Response to Telling Your Story

  1. Pingback: Listening to Joseph Campbell – @Gapingvoid | Andrew Munro's Blog

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