Infographic: How classic storytelling narratives can improve your speeches

Who doesn’t love a nice rags-to-riches tale or a swashbuckling story about overcoming a monster? Use these timeless themes and plot structures to strengthen your next presentation.


If you’re dreading writing an upcoming presentation, you can take solace in the fact that the book has already been written.

An infographic from Quid Corner offers guidance from author Christopher Booker, who posits that “everything ever written boils down to seven basic plots.” Here are a handful of enduring narratives you can use as a storytelling springboard for your next speech:

1. “Overcoming a monster.” This classic theme revolves around the “heartwarming story of courage and bravery where the hero overcomes evil against all odds.” The infographic recommends using this structure to demonstrate how you solved a major problem at work. Your “monster” could be a productivity bottleneck, a PR crisis or perhaps an aggressive possum that somehow sneaked into the kitchen.

2. “Rags to riches.” A young man born into poverty boldly leaves his home in search of a better life. “You’ll never make it!” his friends chide. Struggle ensues, then the bottom falls out. Then, just as our protagonist is about to give up, a miraculous turn of events transpires and leads to outright victory.

Everyone loves an inspiring rags-to-riches tale. Use that winning formula to show how you overcame humble beginnings, struggled, worked hard, then eventually found success.

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3. “Voyage and return.” Here, “our hero journeys to new lands, defeats darkness and returns home all the wiser.” The infographic advises using this approach to talk about a time you left your comfort zone, and what the experience taught you.

4. “The quest.” This motif extols the glory of teamwork. In your next speech, consider telling a story about how your team overcame obstacles, quibbles and disagreements to achieve success.

When it comes to storytelling, there might be nothing new under the sun, but there’s a reason why certain plots have endured for thousands of years. Have a look at the rest of the infographic below for more timeless wisdom.

7 Storytelling Structures to Improve Your Presentations

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