A simple hack to radically improve your storytelling skills

Yesterday, I learned how the power of storytelling can transform your life. That’s not hyperbole.

Sam Duncan
3 min readAug 17, 2022

Last week, I was on a walk around the block from my house, listening to a new Audiobook, ‘Storyworthy’ by Matthew Dicks. I hated his voice, but persisted, because I had a hunch that storytelling could help me.

Not in a life-fulfilling, transformative way. In a make-more-money, get ahead on the corporate ladder kind of way.

I’ve noticed that great storytellers do better at work. They make more sales. They have more influence in meetings. They capture people’s attention.

Telling stories makes you more compelling, more influential, but…

So I queued up this audiobook about storytelling, hoping to learn some hacks, frameworks, tools, and tricks that I could use to tell stories that advanced my career.

But as the book started, and as the stories flowed, I learned something else entirely.

I learned that storytelling can make you more grateful and present in your life.

Especially as a husband, a father, a busy professional trying to juggle the mundanity of adult life with the beauty of building a family.

And I learned it through a simple exercise that the author suggested.

Homework for life

Matt Dicks suggests you try and collect stories throughout your life for 30 days.

You enter each story in a simple spreadsheet. You don’t need to tell the full story, you just spend 5 minutes recounting some of the key facts, which may turn into longer-form stories later.

Here’s an excerpt:

  • 10/29/15: Jaime and Monica’s wedding: First family wedding ever. So much was missed that can never be recovered. Always feel like an outsider.
  • 10/30/15: Hit the ball onto the first green again.
  • 10/31/15: Elysha is horrified by my Meatloaf Pandora station.
  • 11/1/15: Didn’t connect my work voicemail until November 1. Only missed one call. Kids answering phone. Kids protecting me from phone call.

It’s simple. But I’ve found it to be a powerful force for multiplying gratitude and attention throughout the day.

Collecting stories makes you find the little moments. It slows down time, forces you to appreciate what is happening around you.

As Matt says in his book:

“You start to see how the meaningful moments that we experience every day contribute to the lives of others and to the world. You start to sense the critical nature of your very existence.

There are no more throwaway days. Every day can change the world in some small way. In fact, every day has been changing the world for as long as you’ve been alive. You just haven’t noticed yet.”

This simple act of looking for the little things has transformed how I think about stories.

I’ve made entries in my story log the last few nights, and can already say it has been transformative. Not for business, not for making more money.

But for enjoying things more.

How to tell better stories

I’m terrible at telling stories.

But perhaps it’s not because I don’t have the right framework or communication tools.

Maybe I’ve just got got the wrong intentions. Trying to be influential, trying to make more sales or win more money — that’s not how you find great stories to tell.

Instead, a better mindset for discovering and accumulating powerful, resonant stories, is exactly the opposite:

  • Become more aware of the beauty in the world
  • Look for the little moments of transformation, revelation, or natural wonder
  • Capture those moments and log them for at least 5 minutes per day. Not because you can share them for some benefit in the future, but because the sum of all these little moments is the sum of a life worth living.

Storytelling can transform your life — if you take the time to find the little transformations in each story, in each day.