The Three Ps of Awesome Storytelling

Stewart Bewley

I am not a fan of French arthouse movies. They get lost in the middle, are slow to end (if they ever end) and are deeply miserable! Most presentations are like a French arthouse movie because they don’t consider the three Ps that go into creating a joy-filled, engaging presentation – Prepare, Practise and Present.

Here are some really simple and practical ways to nail those three Ps and level up your storytelling.


You know you need to deliver a presentation and the first thing you do is start writing. Stop right there. Don’t write it. Definitely don’t create a slide deck. Instead, grab a pen and paper and answer the following five questions. The answer to these questions will shape your content into a story that will make you and your presentation more memorable.

  1. Who is the hero of this story? A hero is someone who needs to slay a dragon, find a treasure and win. In your presentation it is never you – it is nearly always your audience, or your audience’s audience. They can’t slay the dragon without you and this is why you are presenting to them, whether they are senior or junior. Imagine they can’t get what they need without you and your insight. So in this story you are the wise mentor: Gandalf, Yoda, Morgan Freeman, Carol Danvers, M...
  2. What is the dragon they need to slay? Do they have competition that is taking away customers, is there a slow HR process that is stopping you hiring the best people? Whatever it is, don’t just see it as a minor inconvenience – see it is a genuine dragon that will kill the success of your company, of the heroes in front of you. It will keep you in the mindset of story, not jargon. And a story is 22 times more memorable than a fact.
  3. What is the weapon you are going to give them? You need approval to increase the budget and this is the weapon. Don’t present a bulleted PowerPoint, tell the story of what the increase in budget will do to help them slay the dragon of the bad HR process.
  4. What is the treasure? Imagine the budget has been approved and you have an intuitive app that employees love! What does the landscape look like when the bad HR process has been slain? Job satisfaction and engagement is higher, employees feel valued and are more productive, word of mouth gets out there and talent comes knocking at your door. This is not unrealistic if you take them step by step. And you have to do this in story.
  5. What does the future look like? Most people never talk about this. They present without a specific ask that can bring about the future and then they end the presentation like a bumpy plane landing. But you are presenting because you want something to happen. So land the plane smoothly. Create a potential brighter future with your ending. So name it. Reach for it.


Mark Twain said, ‘If I had time, I would have written you a shorter letter.’ I love this! Let’s take time to create a short, sharp presentation. You can make it longer later.

  1. Turn your answers into a one-minute presentation with a clear beginning, middle and end. Don’t include the words ‘Dragon’, ‘hero’, or ‘treasure’ – these are not words you would use in a real-life presentation. They just get your storytelling juices flowing.
  2. Record your one minute presentation on an audio note. If you have an iPhone, head to Voice Memos ( the most unused app on the App Store). Play it back and ask yourself the question: where do I need to play ‘Line Five to Line One’?
  3. Line Five to Line One is exactly what it says. Move your fifth line to become your first. I have discovered that most people leave the killer headline until it is too late. Even if they say it with confidence, by then they have lost their audience’s attention. When you listen to your audio note, notice your fifth line. You will hear yourself stronger and more confident. Present again and bring it to the front, to line one. You will be very pleasantly surprised.
  4. Re-deliver with line five to line one, and this time whispering your presentation. Don’t fake whisper, actually whisper, as if you are camping and sharing a secret in your tent. When you whisper you will realise the words you are saying and actually enjoy saying them. If you enjoy saying them, we will enjoy listening to them.

Now you have your first one-minute presentation ready, apply that to the rest of your presentation. Force yourself not to settle for mediocre jargon-filled sentences, but work hard at crafting a message that you enjoy saying. And when you say it, do the following:


  1. Smile – with your eyes (especially on camera).
  2. Speak 5% faster than you think is allowed and speak in short sentences. Almost all my clients have been told to slow down, but the truth is that people were actually asking them to shorten their sentences. Long sentences shut our brain down and we get lost. Shorter sentences means I can follow you.
  3. Underline certain words in each sentence with your voice – the words that really matter.
  4. End definitively. I recently came back from Edinburgh, and after a very short flight was made to wait for 30 minutes because they couldn’t find the air bridge. Nobody enjoys seeing the end that they can’t get to – the air bridge that never turns up. So end quick.

If you do all these things you will dramatically change how you present and your audience receive you – for the better!

Stewart Bewley

Stewart founded Amplify back in 2011 from an acting background, believing that if you unlocked people’s voices you would unlock their story and their businesses would thrive.

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