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The Method of the Three Questions! Use This Trick to Become a Better Storyteller

Β· 729 words Β· 4 minute read

Storytelling is not only about conversations. It varies between the problem you explain to your colleagues, a presentation you have to give at school, a deal you want to offer to a client, and so on. This is important as it helps the person that is listening to you, immediately understand the reasons, the actions, and the outcome. But we are born terrible storytellers. Except for a few, but even they have acquired the skill in some form like reading or listening to another person telling stories.

Your storytelling gym is writing. Becoming a better storyteller might affect how you write, but writing will definitely affect how you tell stories.

Here is a little trick I use from time to time when I need to utilize the power of storytelling. The last time I did it, was for my son’s school presentation. I call it: The method of the three questions. And I use it to establish context, give an explanation, and show results.

What are the three questions?

Why, What and How?

The Why πŸ”—

The introduction to your story should be the answer to the question β€œWhy?”. It can be any form of β€œWhy this is important?” or β€œWhy are we gathered here”, and so on. Pick a topic and explain why you will be talking about it. By answering the β€œWhy”, you establish a relationship with the audience and leverage the effort of the readers (or listeners) to do it themselves.

For example, here is a topic: “The Marketing Week of MyAwesomeProduct that lead to 100 new customers”. Throwing a fact that you know will do nothing in a situation when your audience is out of context. Imagine, you meet your friend in a restaurant and you start a conversation:

β€œNone of them wanted to subscribe for the trial!”.

It’s confusing. It makes sense only if you played Charades.

Or, imagine you meet and greet, and you start like this:

β€œIn the past few weeks, I noticed that I have zero new trial subscribers for MyAwesomeProduct. I knew I need to do something!”.

There you go. You give context that is interesting, clear, and hooky. Your audience can follow up with questions like β€œAh wow, you are building a product?” or β€œInteresting, so what did you do?”. You got attention! The statement above answers the question of your main topic: β€œWhy you wanted to do a Marketing Week for MyAwesomeProduct”.

The What πŸ”—

Now that you stated the problem, you can walk the audience through the main point of your story. And that is the answer to the question β€œWhat?”. It narrates, what you did in order to solve that problem. So if for example, I ask exactly that question:

β€œSo what did you do to solve that problem?”

Your main point will be clear once you concisely explain the actions you thought about to try to solve the problem. The story by this point is still experimental. The answer to β€œWhat” is not the definite solution to the problem, you still explain attempts. It could be things like:

β€œI remembered I read something online, about a marketing week in which you isolate yourself from any other activity, and focus only on marketing. But I didn’t know what that exactly meant.”

If the context of your story is a ball that is rolling downhill, when telling that story, your goal is to keep the ball on the street and not let it go on the pavement. Otherwise, the ball will stop rolling and your story will not be a story anymore.

The How πŸ”—

The definite answer to the problem comes by answering the β€œHow?” question. How you solved it, how you got there, how did you find out the solution. In the context of the previous example that would be something like this:

β€œAnd then I read this awesome book titled MarketingWeek 101 by Joe Doe and everything was clear. It consists of an actionable plan on how to do marketing for your product…"

Of course, this is just a simple model that can be used to establish good skills in storytelling. Otherwise, the process could be complex and it requires more than that. Use simple tricks like telling stories from your daily life in a written form, or narrating them in front of a mirror.

Whatever you do, it’s for a great cause and an amazing skill.