Want your storytelling to be awesome? Ask this one question.

If you’re like me, you are always thinking that the storytelling you create can get a little better. So we do what’s natural. We go online looking for ideas or even revelations that others have had as they have wrestled with their work.

A Google search returns lots or results. Some posts are helpful. But more often than not, the “Secrets To (fill in the blank)” are already things that we know and are using. Although it’s nice to be reminded or have the affirmation. Unfortunately, we have to wade through a lot of listicle posts that promise rare knowledge and hidden secrets. I’m a sucker for those. Even though I’ve been writing for over three decades, I still am drawn to the idea that there may be some hidden truth that will magically transform my work. Invariably, the “10 Little Known Secrets” turn out to be about one-and-a-half marginally useful tidbits among a bunch of rehashed fodder.

You already know the secret to your great storytelling

We all have those times when things are just clicking. When what we create feels especially relevant, unique, and valuable.

Now, nobody is monumentally brilliant 100% of the time. But we all would like our work to move a little further in that direction. We can look outward for the knowledge, inspiration, or advice. But we’ve already talked about the problem with that. And honestly, looking outward is never as enlightening as looking inward. Those moments of brilliance we’ve had in the past hold the key to unlocking more of the same.

There is a question we use when we are helping organizations clarify their purpose or Big Audacious Meaning. It can be equally as powerful when we are looking to optimize our storytelling. Here’s the question.

When we were at our best, what made us so compelling?

The question has us examining a number of factors. We look at who we were serving. We look at how we were serving them. And why the result was exceptional. This simple question can uncover those things that can guide us to that awesome storytelling that we’re striving to achieve. Most of all, it’s a question that we already know the answer to. We just need to stop and reflect on those things that led to our success.

This may seem obvious. Like such a simple question. But don’t be so quick to dismiss it. This question never fails to reveal some wonderful insight, and maybe even a little inspiration.

Doesn’t that sound like something worth exploring? Doesn’t that sound awesome?


Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the forthcoming book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life. He regularly shares his insight here, on Linkedin, and at dansalva.com.