How to engage your audience with the best storytelling techniques


Jon Marquez

Jon Marquez

Blog author Jon Marquez

Jon Marquez works for Policygenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers. He previously worked for NorthWestern Mutual.

Published September 25, 2015|2 min read

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What happens when you have 11 strangers selected to give a presentation and have their speeches taped in front of a group of their peers? When people stop pitching their businesses--and start getting real? No, this isn’t a new reality show from MTV. It’s Ignite FinCon!FinCon is a yearly get-together of bloggers and other online hotshots in personal finance and investing. Ignite FinCon the showpiece at the conference, where a group of personal finance experts gather in one room to each give a presentation--called a "spark"--on an entertaining subject that has nothing to do with their business.The format is pretty straightforward: Each speaker has a 20-slide presentation and can only spend 15 seconds per slide, which is a pretty daunting task when you’re in front of potential hecklers and audience members who just ran out of wine. Think of it as a Ted talk…on speed.

Our very own CEO and Co-founder, Jennifer Fitzgerald, was one of the elite chosen to present her own spark, where she shared some of her best storytelling techniques. And it was a hit, judging by some of the tweets from audience members:

  • @shannonmcnay: "Great storytelling is like verbal bobsledding." Great talk!

  • @dahartattack: She absolutely owned it! You guys rock! #IgniteFinCon

  • @ragspag: "Hey #Charlotte - don’t call the Fire Dept. It’s just #IgniteFinCon @PolicyGenius killing it!

But you don’t have to have attended FinCon 15 to learn these same techniques, because we’ve shared the presentation below (right after the "executive summary"). Read it, learn from, and most of all share it with colleagues so you never have to sit through a boring presentation again.

How to Tell a Story: Executive Summary

1. Stories should always be short and to the point. Keep to one single purpose so you don't lose your audience.2. A story has a basic story structure: setup, conflict, resolution. That’s it. Keep your story moving and don’t dwell half-remembered details.3. Don’t "Kanye" your story: You can’t start awesome and end awesome if you want your audience to identify.4. Use humor competently! Don’t use "that’s what she said." Follow the classic three part joke formula: zig, zig, zag.5. And, the most important tip: Have an ending!

FinCon 15: Engage Your Audience With The Best Storytelling Techniques from PolicyGenius Inc