The Three Biggest Mistakes When Telling Stories – BWSS #5!

Oof, no one wants to know that the story they just told was kind of boring… but if you sense that’s the case, you may be making one of the THREE BIGGEST MISTAKES!

Want to know what they are? Listen here, or read the transcript below!


Do you make any of these? Or have you recently heard/read someone who does? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who reeeeally could use this knowledge — or if you want to passive-aggressive style let them know via your own Facebook page — you can share this blog there or in a bunch of places, using one of the round buttons below. Thanks!

You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want even more tips and advice plus secrets and stories I won’t put on the internet? AND my guide for the magic bullet to powerful storytelling? Come and join the Yes Yes Family — for FREE! — just pop your details in here:


Are you making any of the three biggest mistakes that people make when they tell stories? I’m going to tell you what they are and how to avoid them!


This is the Baby Walk Story series, a series that was named maybe 30 seconds before I started doing them, which was about three minutes after I decided that these should exist, which is a lesson in taking action on your impulsive ideas :)


(I have been listening to a lot of Amy Porterfield podcasts and it makes me want to do stuff. A side note, if you run any kind of business that has an online component, then please go and listen to Amy Porterfield’s Marketing Made Easy podcast because they are amazing.)

Ok. So the three biggest mistakes in storytelling. Are you ready?


Mistake number one:

1. Not telling things in the chronological order that they happened to you

— so that you’re throwing in spoilers.

You know when you watch a TV show that’s on Netflix so other people can see it and you’re halfway through a season and somebody goes on Facebook and says, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe that in Orange is the New Black, such and such just died.”?

((Obviously I’m not going to give you actual spoilers here. People do die in Orange is the New Black sometimes.))


How do you feel when you see that on Facebook, about a TV show you’re watching?

It sucks, right? Think about why. It sucks because you want to find that stuff out for yourself. We hate spoilers. Then, how do you feel when you’re then watching that TV show knowing what’s going to happen? Two different things are going on. One of them is you start trying to reverse engineer every single scene. You’re like, “Is this one she’s going to die? Is this one she’s going to die??” That takes you out of enjoying it and being present.

Secondly, there’s no tension! It’s really hard to care!

I love TV so much that I will go back and watch old episodes of TV shows that I’ve already seen. If there’s a character who has died later on, every scene they’re in, I feel like, “Ech, you’re going to die anyway.” It’s really hard for me to care about that person.


The reason for that is because, when we don’t know what’s happening, it builds tension. And we love tension. When we feel tension in storytelling, our brain floods with oxytocin, bonding and trust and dopamine reward. It feels really good.

Often telling stories, people think, “Oh, tell the most exciting part first because then people keep listening because they’ll want to get to that exciting part.” But actually all that does is make us just not care. If you say, “At this point I didn’t realise that they had given the job to so and so,” then we stopped caring about this job interview because we think, “Ech, you’re not going to get the job anyway.”


So, always tell things in the chronological order that they happened to you. If you see my video about what happens in the brain (or the blog — I’ve written it all out in case you’re not a video person. You should watch it though, this weird alien version of me and then three of me are all on the couch talking at the same time) (if you like that kind of thing. If you don’t, please don’t watch it.)


Anyway, in that video, I talked about how, when a story is being well-told, what happens in the brain is that your brain thinks that you are inside the story and that’s what you’re aiming for.


What you’re really aiming for whenever you’re telling a story is to elicit a Freaky Friday-style body swap between the person listening to the story and you in that moment. So don’t tell us anything that you in that moment didn’t know. Don’t say, “Well, of course at this point, I didn’t realise that I was going to end up marrying Jennifer,” because you didn’t know at that point!


Only tell us what you knew at that time. The way that you do that is by telling things in the chronological order that they happened to you.


Mistake number two:

2. Commentary

People love to commentate on their stories! But if you have commentary, opinion, judgment, it’s not a story. It’s a lecture.

Now if you’re giving a talk, for sure you want to have some commentary somewhere. Just make sure it’s not right in the middle of the story part or if you’re just telling a story, definitely don’t have any.

When you’re telling a story, it’s just reporting. What happened next? Then what happened next? And how did you feel? Then what happened next? Then what happened next? And how did you feel?

I often will say to my clients, “What was the security camera footage?” and sometimes they’re say, “There was no security camera footage.” I’m like,“No, no. If there was a security camera in there, how would you describe the footage?”

Then the only addition is to answer the question, “How did you feel?”

But if you say, “Really this told me that I wasn’t the kind of person who blah, blah, blah” or, “Of course all of us when we wear shoes on the grass feel a freedom and that is important in life, blah, blah, blah.”


That’s commentary. That’s opinion and judgment. I’m not interested in that in your story.

The reason I don’t like it is
(1) It pulls me out of being in the story. As I mentioned, you want to elicit a Freaky Friday style body swap where it feels like I’m inside your story and when you have commentary, it pulls me out.

(2) I want to come to opinions by myself! I’m not even a rebellious type — in Gretchen Rubin’s “how you do things” categories, I’m the people pleaser, the obliger. Like “Yes! Sorry! Please don’t get cross with me!” — not the rebel. But when I’m listening to a story and somebody tells me how to think, I’m like, “F you!” Because I might not even agree with your opinion or judgment.

As I said, if you are doing a talk, you can have that be separate. But don’t make it part of your story.

No commentary or philosophy. Just reporting. What happened? Then what happened next? How did you feel? What happened? What happened next? How did you feel?

Save the commentary for the lectures.


Biggest mistake number three:

People often think that the biggest mistake in storytelling is putting in too much detail. It’s not. It’s:

3. Not telling me how you feel

Emotions are the MOST IMPORTANT part of storytelling. They are how you can connect with any story.


I have not had every experience but I have had almost every emotion. So you could tell me what it’s like to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet when you’re terrified of heights. That is a thing which I will never do. You could not pay me enough money to do that, so I don’t know what that’s like.

But if you tell me that you felt terrified and excited all at the same time, I have had those two emotions. So I can connect to your story.

There are three different ways you can talk about emotions. I have put all of them in a very special amazing video with so many different outfits and a PDF that you can download and keep and you can get here:


To conclude:

The three biggest mistakes in storytelling are number one, not telling things in the chronological order and throwing in spoilers. Number two, commentating, giving commentary and philosophy instead of just reporting. And number three, not talking about your emotions.


Any thoughts, I would love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below. Thank you so much for reading!

You rule,


PS want even more tips and advice plus secrets and stories I won’t put on the internet? AND my guide for the magic bullet to powerful storytelling? Come and join the Yes Yes Family — for FREE! — just pop your details in here:

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field