5 Storytelling Techniques To Cut Through Uncertainty And Captivate People

Our internationally experienced Writing for Communications course trainer Megan Sheerin shares practical storytelling tips: a taste of what you can expect from this full program in 2024.

In a world saturated by noise, storytelling isn’t a nice-to-have.

It’s a strategic imperative for companies that want to capture attention, motivate action, and make their message land.

With AI, speed and sheer volume of content have never been easier. Yet as markets and macro forces keep shifting, clarity and creativity have never been more critical. Many employees and external audiences are simply overwhelmed by the boring and the bloated.

It’s no secret that storytelling is the key to cut through and captivate people—but corporate communicators can struggle with its practical implementation. Where do I start? What is the right thing to say? And how do I keep the reader hooked?

If you can relate, you’re not alone.

Here are five storytelling techniques to help you craft communications in a productive yet imaginative way—and deliver your desired results.

1. Identify “what’s in it” for them.

The biggest challenge for many communicators? Failing to land what really matters to a reader.

Generic messages that speak to “everyone” are easy to write—and even easier for readers to ignore. If I don’t see myself reflected, why bother?

The key is to zero in on the one killer point you want your audience to take away—and get to it fast.

Start by considering the context. What are their goals and pain points? How do they want to feel when this problem is solved, or opportunity realized?

Second, narrow your focus. If you had to boil down your communication to a single message your audience would care about—what would that be?

Finally, frame this message in a way guaranteed to get your readers’ attention. A question, bold statement or challenge are all opening lines that stop people scrolling and provoke a pause.

There’s your lead: the single idea around which to build the rest of your story.

2. Adapt your style to the medium.

Your vision isn’t landing as successfully as you’d hoped? The secret is knowing how and when to change your style to grab and hold attention.

Some of us are wired to write for the screen (or page) more than in-person situations. Communicating for the eye and the ear have their differences.

When presenting, here are two tips to consider:

  1. · Chop up your content. People can’t go back and re-read what you’ve said if they don’t understand you. So, what works well as a long sentence on-screen could be easier to digest as two shorter sentences aloud.
  2. · Pause for important points. Silence is the equivalent of white space around your words. People notice when you’re not talking—and it gives more weight to what you DO say. For maximum impact, pause sparingly.

3. Anticipate and answer questions.

In 2020, Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson shared a message with employees. It was tough news: the hotel chain’s business was in crisis because of COVID-19. Arne knew Marriott employees listening to his presentation would probably ask themselves two questions:

  • Am I going to lose my job?
  • When is all this going to be over?

So, the CEO answered those questions directly in his speech, saying: “There’s nothing worse than telling highly valued associates that their roles are being impacted…”

Arne went on to tell his people: “It’s impossible to know how long this crisis will last…”

With this, employees knew they may be affected—and the future was uncertain.

By anticipating and covering off audience questions like Arne, you take them off the table and keep people’s attention. (Because if they’re thinking, they’re not listening, reading or absorbing information.)

As you prepare your communication, ask yourself what your audience may want to know—even if they don’t say it aloud.

This helps you pinpoint places where people can disconnect because they’re distracted.

4. Recognize cultural nuances.

Whether you’re communicating to a diverse workforce or external audience, tapping into the cultural zeitgeist can build deeper connections with people.

In Asia, with its rich tapestry of languages, traditions and values, this nuanced understanding is even more critical.

To succeed here, consider appointing storytelling ambassadors from different cultural backgrounds across your business. Building in their insights can help you shape stories that speak to diverse perspectives—inside the organization, as well as in-market.

Next, beta-test those stories with a range of employees and external stakeholders before a major communication roll-out. This way, your writing will align to cultural sensibilities and resonate across demographics. People will feel seen and heard.

5. Inspire feelings—don’t simply share facts.

When Marriott Hotels’ CEO Arne Sorenson passed away from a terminal illness, the company issued a press release. Part of it read:

“Arne was an exceptional executive—but more than that—he was an exceptional human being,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board.

…We extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children.

We share your heartbreak, and we will miss Arne deeply.”

By weaving through words that inspire emotion—“exceptional,” “heartfelt,” and “heartbreak”—these quotes pull at our heartstrings. This message isn’t a mere list of facts. Instead, it is the story of a respected leader’s mission and meaningful life.

The more our feeds are flooded with AI-generated content, the more people will lean towards the human-generated and heartfelt.

Don’t simply inform reporters. Inspire them with press releases that are as compelling as they are crisp.

Master fundamentals, move with the times.

Advertising, marketing, and employee engagement are continuing to merge. Boundaries are blurring between internal and external stories. Expect the communications landscape to become more interactive and innovative than ever.

The key to moving with new trends is mastering the fundamentals of storytelling.

Led by internationally experienced business consultant and trainer Megan Sheerin, our new Writing for Communications program will teach you these. You’ll walk away with a proven system to craft stories with confidence and clarity. Even as realities shift.

If you’d like to learn more about how to deliver more predictable and powerful results with your words, please email

Andrews Partnership are the reputation experts, with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore working across Asia, as the leading specialist corporate affairs, communications and investor relations executive search firm. We excel at understanding each organisation's unique challenges and appointing the right talent, who make meaningful business impact.