Storytelling secrets: The 4th S of storytelling

Storytelling secrets: The 4th S of storytelling
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Storytelling can be overwhelming sometimes because there are multiple techniques, structures and secrets which can be used. Some of the storytelling secrets or techniques are complex to understand and it takes a little bit of experience to understand and apply. Some of the techniques are straightforward but sometimes we struggle to implement them perfectly.

Most of the storytellers to motivate the audience follow this basic pattern which includes these 3 components 

1)Struggle

2)Solution

3)Success 

On the surface level, these 3 points look sufficient to make an impactful story. But, there is a minute flaw that is subtle but makes a great impact on the outcome. Since it is a small factor we tend to exclude them in the story. Even though you miss out on this factor I won’t say your story will be bad, it will be effective but it won’t have an everlasting impact on your audience.

So lets go in detail about the storytelling secrets.

Struggle: Everyone goes through a struggle. As speakers, we tend to go more in detail about the struggle. When we go into detail more than required about the struggle in the story, you will lose your audience. Your audience mind will be saying ” Everyone goes through a struggle. Even I am going through one. Just move forward to the next point.” So make sure you don’t focus on the struggle more than required, try to keep me crisp and relevant.

Solution: This is where your audience is interested and this is where they will be benefitted. It is fine to explain in detail the solution and your transition to the next step.

Success: As a speaker, we tend to speak about our success not to brag about it but to try to convince our audience how things can change. We try to instil hope in our audience. Light at end of the tunnel. Sometimes as a speaker we get carried away by this and try to explain more than required. So try to keep it crisp and impactful.

On the Surface level, these 3 points make a good speech. 

But we tend to miss out on the 4th S which is most important.

The 4th S

4) SWITCH

 “Switch” is that moment in your story that made you realise you can do it.

Your audience wants to know, When did the light go ON? What made you believe in yourself? What triggered you to move forward?

The success of storytelling to motivate is about, what made you realise that you had what you needed and be what you wanted.

It’s generally 10 seconds or lesser than that in your story but it is the most powerful moment. 

Your audience doesn’t want to listen more about your struggle and success. Sometimes, even they are not aware of it. At the end of the speech, they feel good and motivated but they also feel something is missing. Just like an ingredient in the food. The food looks good, smells good, it has the flavours to it but something is missing, which is stopping it from being incredible. The average audience will not know about what is missing but an expert will know what is missing.

“ I was going through a crisis but I didn’t give up. I was determined. I worked hard .blah blah blah “

This is the basic pattern. Struggle – Solution – Success

Tell them what made you determined. Tell them why you did not give up. Tell them what made you believe in yourself. Don’t say I believed in myself etc, etc.

Even I was not aware of this. In one of my stories in an International speech contest, I used to think the struggle, solution and success made the story good. But, I had a “Switch “ in the story which was impactful.

“When things were not going good. I was sitting on the shores in Mangalore. I thought of giving up. While I was going back, a fisherman stops by and asks for a 500 rupees note in return for a five, 100 rupees note. I gave him the 500 rupees note and hands over the change. The notes were crumpled and perhaps stinking to some extent. By the time I realised it, he was gone. But, I was not worried because the money doesn’t lose value. That’s when it struck me. Even after being destroyed, crumpled and stinking if a piece of paper doesn’t lose its value, then why do we let someone else’s criticism, our failure to stop us. I was changed by the change.

Speech title: WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP   – Roel Dsouza

These few lines made a difference in the story. It was not the struggle or the success.

In your next story or speech try to emphasise on this “Switch” which is one of the storytelling secrets and see the magic of it.


Step by Step: Guide to public speaking


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