The Importance of Storytelling in Speeches and Quotes about Stories

Christopher Witt —  July 13, 2012

Good speakers tell stories. And great speakers tell great stories. The stories we tell help us define ourselves and what matters to us. They provide meaning and a sense of direction. They touch our imaginations and emotions. They’re memorable. In short, I can’t understand how anyone — especially a leader — could give a speech without telling a story.


Great speakers tell great stories.

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
—Muriel Rukeyser, American poet and political activist

“Personal Stories are the emotional glue that connects your audience to your message.”
—Nancy Duarte, author, Resonate

“We all think that an exception is going to be made in our case and we’re going to live forever. Being a human is actually arriving at the understanding that that’s not going to be. Story is there to remind us that it’s just OK.”
— Ken Burns, director and producer of documentary films

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”
– Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life

“Over the years I have become convinced that we learn best—and change—from hearing stories that strike a chord within us… Those in leadership positions who fail to grasp or use the power of stories risk failure for their companies and for themselves.”
—John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor, and author, Leading Change

“Story gives people enough space to think for themselves. The story develops and grows in the mind of the listener. If it is a good story, you don’t have to keep it alive by yourself. It is automatically retold or replayed in the minds of the listeners.”
—Annette Simmons, author, The Story Factor

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”
—Mary Catherine Bateson, anthropologist

“The ‘true story’ is not the one that exists in my mind… The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to try to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears.”
—Orson Scott Card, science fiction writer

“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”
—Robert McKee, author, Story

“We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it.’ You’re not as alone as you thought.”
—John Steinbeck, author

One of the best books about stories and how they operate in the business environment is The Story Factor: Inspriation, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling by Annette Simmons. It’s the book on storytelling that I wish I had written. Great read!

Do you have any favorite quotes about stories or storytelling that you can share? Or other books you’d recommend?

Photo courtesy of The New Ruffian at

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Christopher Witt

Posts Twitter Facebook

Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Five Public Speaking Tips for Leaders - Christopher Witt - December 1, 2015

    […] See The Importance of Stories in a Speech. […]