STAR Technique for Storytelling

Storytelling – it’s something I’m pretty passionate about (read here, here, and here for starters).

It’s something that I’ve been working on for a while now and it’s something that I continue to actively think about as the opportunities arise for practicing, honing my craft, and improving.

Last night I had the opportunity to share a few thoughts on how to do a better pitch at WashU (for a startup or product) sharing a number of key principles.

The first is that your goal, in a pitch, is to get a follow-up conversation; that’s it. This helps you narrow your effort from a top-level.

Then, within the pitch, you want to connect emotionally with the audience, grabbing their attention.

You can do that by:

  1. Level-setting the audience by talking about a shared experience (something familiar to most of the people in the room.
  2. This establishes tension, a problem that must be solved.
  3. Then, your goal is to release that tension, or to solve it through your product, service, and/or company.

A very simple framework and one that I use all the time.


Hook up, capture our imagination.

One thing I had wish I had shared last night, which could have also been helpful as another technique that works is using the STAR Technique.

This is most commonly used in relationship to job interviews but I’ve found it helpful for storytelling as well:

  • Situation: A challenge or situation that you’ve experienced. More recent the better for relevancy.
  • Task: What was the goal? What did you seek to do? Where were you headed? Describe the context a bit more. Give us the meat, the details.
  • Action: What did you have to do to fulfill the task? What did you encounter? Was there anything surprising? Who else, perhaps, was involved?
  • Results: What happened as the result of your actions? Were you able to get the task done, meet your objectives, solve the problem? Perhaps most importantly, what did you learn? Give us the “why” on this experience and why it was something important for you to share. How has this impacted your short and long-term thinking.

Another decent framework for storytelling and perhaps a bit more useful for those who want a more “official” step-by-step rubric.

We are naturally drawn to stories. We follow great storytellers. We want to be part of stories that have significance. I think it’s important that we understand these principles and then, if you’re a leader, leverage them wisely and well.

How are you actively becoming a better storyteller?