How to re-purpose a story

Frankie Kemp

3 January 2024

Can’t think of what story to tell?

Storytelling is a powerful skill that can help you connect with your audience, persuades them to take action, and makes your message memorable.

In fact, there’s even a hormonal change that occurs with a well-told story.  Here’s the science.

But what if you don’t have a good story to tell? Perhaps you have the right story, but it doesn’t quite fit the purpose or the context of your presentation.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a master storyteller to create a compelling narrative.

In the storytelling training I give, clients discover a few ways to tweak their stories to suit specific needs.

I’ll show you here how to use what you already have and change it to fit the theme and your audience.

You’ll be able to find an existing story that sticks, no matter what the topic or the occasion.

What elements to change in your existing narrative:

  1. The protagonist – maybe the main character is you but you don’t want to say so. The other reason you may use a different protagonist is to make it more relevant to your audience, flipping the profession or gender for example.
  2. The time – place the the situation as happening more recently instead of 20 years ago when it actually occurred. Let’s say it’s as relevant now as it was years ago but you don’t want some pedant arguing that the situation is outdated so make it more recent.
  3. The theme – for example, if you want to tell a story about a success, you can change the theme from luck to hard work, or from talent to perseverance.
  4. The events – there’s a warning, a crisis you want to relay. You can swap out that event – in drama this is called ‘the inciting incident’ – with another event.  Here’s list of such events*
      • Emerging market competitors
      • Flaws in daily operations
      • Undisciplined co-workers
      • Competition for promotions
      • Challenging projects
      • Loss of work, such as during a computer malfunction
      • Uncontrollable events, such as a power outage or a severe storm
      • Sudden health problems
      • Untrained teams
      • Unexpected projects
      • Social disputes at work
      • New managers
      • Reduced staff

Storytelling is not a talent that you’re born with or without. It’s a skill that you can learn and improve with some storytelling training and practice. By using what you already have and changing it to fit the theme and your audience, you can create a story that resonates with your listeners, making your message stand out.

Your Actions:

1. Bring forward a story you’ve used in the past. Now consider your audience in terms of their…

  1. profession
  2. their problem
  3. the key message

2. Now use that story and change one or more of the elements below:

  1. the protagonist
  2. the time
  3. the theme
  4. the events

And voila, you have a story that sticks!

Found this helpful? Then share it with a friend or colleague.  Thinking of using stories more but don’t know how to find them, where to use them or how to structure a narrative?  Then consider some storytelling training.  Contact me here for a free 15 minute Discovery Call (no strings attached!)



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