Lange International

Tips and Insights

from Lange’s Communication Thought Leaders

Making Your Point: Ground It in Story


by Maria Iams

You’ve probably seen Chobani yogurt on the shelves of your local grocery store, but do you know the story behind it? Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO of Chobani, spoke at TED2019 in April  sharing the Chobani story. He used it to help him make bold points about his “anti-CEO playbook” and the result was inspiring.    

Storytelling affects the brain, stimulating oxytocin production and releasing dopamine into the system, creating a feeling of empathy. If you can build empathy with others through storytelling, your messages will be more compelling and drive people to action.

Want to land your point? Ground it in story. Here are a few storytelling best practices with examples from Ulukaya’s TEDtalk:

  1. Take your listener on a journey. Ulukaya did this by talking about what was (a decrepit, run-down factory) to what is now (the biggest producer of yogurt worldwide).

  2. Show, don’t tell. Ulukaya used specific language, such as “a milk container left out in the sun” to describe how the factory smelled.

  3. Make people care. Ulukaya shared how he felt over the course of the story, as well as how others felt. The internal story—the emotional state of the characters—is as critical as the external story.

  4. Infuse humor. Ulukaya shared a conversation with his attorney where he talked about not having any money. It was humorous, the crowd laughed, and it lightened the heavy tale. It was natural.

  5. Rehearse it out loud. Again and again. Practice pausing for dramatic effect and get rid of details that don’t support your point. Most importantly, if you love telling the story—your audience will love listening to it.