Storytelling Tip: Anticipate problems


Storytelling Tip: Anticipate problems
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
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By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel

Storytelling Tip: Anticipate problemsWe all know it’s important to say the right thing when telling your story.

But it’s also important to anticipate problems so you can avoid saying the wrong thing — and so you’ll be prepared to rebut skeptics, competitors or enemies who challenge what you say.

I suggest asking — and answering — five questions as you prepare your story:

  • What’s your objective? What do you want to happen because you told your story? Be specific. And don’t skip this step just because you think you know the answer.
  • Who’s your audience? Who are you trying to reach with your story?
  • What’s your headline? What’s the one thing you want the rest of us to hear, understand and remember if we forget everything else you say? This is the main message of your story. Make it clear and simple. And be able to say it in 15 seconds or less.
  • Do you have other messages you want to include? Okay, you probably have a dozen. But limit yourself to no more than three messages anytime you tell your story. Save the rest for another day. If you hit us with too many messages, we won’t remember any of them. Having too many messages is the same as not having any messages.
  • What message(s) do you want to avoid? This is a question that often gets overlooked. But it’s extremely important. What will your competitors say? Be ready with your answer before you tell your story. Are there politically sensitive issues you need to avoid so you won’t offend your audience? Does your audience have misconceptions you need to debunk? Saying the wrong thing or failing to address misconceptions your audience already has can destroy your story. So, don’t forget to ask yourself what can go wrong. And then know what you’ll say — or avoid saying — to make sure it doesn’t.


Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 |

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

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