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Better Stories
are surprising.

Better Stories use the element of surprise to make them more memorable. (Especially if the goal of the story is to flip the response state of an audience from negative to positive).


Tough Topics Need Levity.

Great communicators can take tough (or boring) subjects and make them engaging by adding levity. The maestro at this is Sir Ken Robinson. His talk about educational reform is one of the most watched TED talks of all time for good reason (400M+ views). I give an overview of why it's such a good presentation in this tutorial.  [13 mins]


Neuroscience for Leadership.

This highly accessible Neuroscience 101 book that is perfect if you want a quick read relevant to business communications. You'll read it in a few hours and gain lots of takeaways. For me it was the concept of surprise as an emotion that can change the response state of an audience.   [233 pages]



Tell Emotional Stories.

This short video tutorial provides a little background as to why I think "surprise" is one of the most important elements in business storytelling. [10 mins]


Storyteller Tactics.

Written by Steve Rawling these storyteller tactics cards are analog "prompts" to help you create more surprising narratives. Steve studied hundreds of the best storytelling books and condensed the best bests onto these 56 cards. they're not cheap but they do also come with a login for several useful digital assets as well. [£79.99]


Science of Surprise.

Neuroscientists estimate that SURPRISE intensifies our emotions by 400%. That can cause us to shift our perspective, change our mental state and shift our world view; which is why it is the most powerful "emotion" in storytelling. [3 min read]


Power of Surprise.

This short keynote from Tania Luna does a wonderful job of outlining why the element of surprise is so gratifying to the brain's pleasure centre, and why we are compelled to share stories that we find surprising. [9 mins]


Why Surprise Matters.

More from psychology instructor Tania Luna, CEO of Surprise Industries - a company that designs surprise experiences and investigates the applications of surprise. TEDxTeen April 2013. [19 mins]


Study Surprise.

Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected is a fascinating book I highly recommend by psychology instructor Tania Luna and psychology professor Dr. LeeAnn Renninger. Together they shine a light on the world's least understood and most intriguing emotion, and reveal how shifting our perception of surprise lets us thrive in the face of uncertainty. [272 pages]



Your Body Language Coach.

Your body language has the power to impact an audience even more than your words. Many coaches point to the misunderstood 7:38:55 rule but if you really want a quick coaching lesson in body language 101, pick up a box of these cards written by my friend Martin Brooks. [£14.99]


Cicero Cards.

I've been using Cicero cards for a few years. Unlike the Storyteller Tactics cards they are inspired by design thinking, so if you love a wall of post it notes and enjoy building empathy maps of your audience, you'll love these cards. They're expensive but they do come with Miro / Mural / Figma friendly digital assets.   [£59-£129]


Do What You Can't.

The best business stories challenge the status quo and contain the element of surprise. I love this short motivational video from Casey Neistat not just because it does both of those things, but because the format of the video itself inspires me to create better stories. [10 mins]


From Good to Great.

If you want to be a better communicator - read anything Carmine Gallo has written! He continues to inspire me and has mentored me throughout my career. This is his talk at Google about FIVE STARS, possibly his best book. [61 mins]


Write Good Jokes.

If your style of LEVITY means dropping a strategically placed joke into your presentation, then take a leaf out of Jerry Seinfeld's book. He is the top grossing comedian of all-time (net worth $925M) talking to the New York Times about what is required to craft a great joke. [5 mins]


Infectious Generosity.

Chris Anderson (curator of TED talks) is the storytellers storyteller. Having watched and analysed thousands of TED talks, this is his TED talk from November 2023 about how sharing entertaining and transformative stories can change the world. [20 mins]

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Write Like Hemingway.

It's no secret that many of the world's top writers and storytellers study Hemingway (especially his "Iceberg Theory") to learn how to tell an engaging short story. His average story takes 1,000 seconds to read. The best speeches are often 1,000 seconds long. Coincidence? [6 mins]


What's the ROI of Your Dog?

Many years ago Gary Vaynerchuk asked me "What's the ROI of your mom?". In response I wrote a keynote about measurement and called it "What's the ROI of Your Dog?". This clip from 2008 was one of the first "business storytelling" videos I ever watched. It still makes me smile. [3 mins]

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