Where it’s hiding and how to find it.

There are 2 main elements to a good story - Narrative + Emotion. Don’t forget it. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Finding emotion in the conversations you have with clients + interviewees.

While narrative is easy to find, emotion is more evasive. You can never jump straight to it in conversation. Finding emotion begins with comfort. Make sure to Set the Table for openness and vulnerability before you begin. Once you’ve done that, you can begin digging.

How do you find emotion?

Emotion comes in all shapes and sizes, but it often is hiding in places such as:

Something unexpected: You have to be prepared so that when you hear it, you can pull and follow those threads.

Laughter: Laughter is a story teller’s best friend. It’s either an indicator of something greater yet to be found, or it’s there to tell you that something is being masked or covered up.

Shaky voice: A shaky voice is a thing of beauty. Assuming you’ve Set the Table correctly you can be sure that a shaky voice isn’t nerves. That means that there is real emotion beneath that shake. Dig in.

Too often we as story tellers have a tendency to focus solely on narrative. Follow this exercise to find emotion and then build from there. Find the emotion and build narrative around it.


01. Find a partner who can be an Active Listener while you tell your story. Ask them to take notes, paying special attention to emotion

02. Take 90 seconds to tell a personal story that responds to one of the following prompts:

  • Share a personal story of triumph in the face of great odds.
  • Tell me about a time when you were surprised by your family or friends.
  • What is your favorite memory of childhood?

03. Listen to your partner’s feedback — what resonated with them? Where was the emotion?

04. Take 30 seconds to sit in silence with the feedback

05. Tell your story again — this time in only 60 seconds. Focus on building to the emotional moments which your partner helped you to identify

06. Receive Feedback one last time.

08. Switch + repeat.