The Art of Storytelling | By Kelly Stocker

We could not be more excited to be hosting our first ever storytelling event next week and we couldn't do it without our fabulous moderator and expert public speaker, Kelly Stocker. Check out some tips below on how to be an epic storyteller from the master herself! 

Photo originally from The Every Girl.

Photo originally from The Every Girl.

Storytelling is totally hot right now. From casual backyard events to the vaunted TED talk, the world at large is embracing our natural inclination to share. Next week is the kickoff to RefineryATX’s Morning Hustle series, with yours truly as the moderator. I’ve told stories and I’ve heard stories. And sometimes they’re really, really bad. See also: every best man speech ever.

IMHO the archnemesis to telling a good story is uncertainty. Eliminating that gets you 90% of the way to being a compelling storyteller. Here are some basic steps to move you in the right direction.

Building a Story

The five components of a story are the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. 101 right? It may feel silly but take the time to storyboard your tale - whether it’s a personal story or one you’ve written - to help it flow smoothly and meet audience expectations.

Share Your Story (Don’t Memorize It)

Connecting with an audience means being familiar enough with your story to go with the flow. Even if you’re telling a fictional story, know it well enough that it feels real. Punch up the funny parts, be sincere when you’re talking about the important bits. You’re at a dinner party, not a debriefing.

Have Some Stakes

You can have a lovely speaking voice and an interesting style but without stakes, the story isn’t as engaging. Why should they invest the emotional energy in your tale? What’s the thing that drives your plot? Also make sure you’re not just talking about what transpires but how you feel about the event or events.

Bookend Your Story With Great Lines

A story should arc with a clear beginning, middle and end. No surprise there… but make yours stand out by having a gut-grabbing first line and a totally “nailed it!” last line. Clever bookends (first line, last line) help define the story and are satisfying for the audience. It was the best of times… it was the worst of times.


  • Keep it simple. Have a central core concept to avoid meandering.
  • Draw it out, write it down, understand the arc and you’ll know the flow.
  • Practice to get a sense of pace, with an audience if available.


  • Rant. Boooooooring.
  • Insert forced humor because you feel like you have to
  • Wing it