Is The Devil in The Details?


(By Randy Lane) Human connection matters most to your audience during these uneasy times we are experiencing. Your stories reflect what matters to you, and they deepen your relationship with listeners.

Effective storytelling is less about telling listeners your story, and more about showing them. One fundamental storytelling principle we’ve all heard a thousand times is, “Paint a mental picture.” So, how do you do that?”

Sensory Details

Painting a colorful picture in your story comes from sensory details. The Randy Lane Company advises talent to include at least two of the five senses in all personal stories: see, hear, touch, taste, smell. Visually oriented people want to see what the scene looked like. Auditory people want to know what it sounded like. While kinesthetic types connect to what it felt like physically or emotionally.

Specific Details

It’s not just sensory details that make an intriguing story, it’s specific details. In her book The Story Factor, author Annette Simmons says, “The more specific the details, the more universal the connections.” Specific details create vivid mental pictures that make the characters in your story come alive.

Let’s look at three examples that could enliven your story through specific details:

  • Instead of saying, “I had a come to Jesus meeting with my boss yesterday morning,” try, “Tuesday morning at 10:30, I had a come to Jesus meeting with my boss.”
  • Rather than saying, “The cougar stalked me for several minutes”, say, “The cougar stalked me for a full six minutes of sheer terror.”
  • Instead of saying, “We met in a coffee shop,” say, “We met at a Starbucks on E. Osborn in Scottsdale.”

The devil is in the details when they are unnecessary and bog down the story. When my three daughters were kids, they’d tell me way more than I wanted to know in their stories.

Ask yourself, “Do these details add to the story, or should I leave them out?” Be sure the details move your story forward toward a conclusion, and keep them brief to hold the audience’s attention. Be a missile, not a bumblebee!

Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805.231.5746 or email at [email protected].


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