If you speak to groups, you likely know the situation. You're putting together a new talk, and there's a big underlying question you should address early. Maybe it's a big, overarching question implied in the presentation’s title. Yet, despite the question's enormity, you are NOT sure what the answer is. Or at least what the answer isn’t built for a pithy, micro-bulleted list perfectly suited for delivery via a PowerPoint slide.

That situation plagued me with the new talk I did on attracting a brand's extraordinary stories at the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York.

Developing ideas for using the seven Idea Magnets strategies to attract a brand's extraordinary stories, there was a big question that seemed like I needed to answer: What’s a story?

The problem?

I didn't have an elegant answer to the question. Under time pressure to get the workshop deck done, I figured I'd let the question slide. I mean really: WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT A STORY IS?

Can you guess the rest of the story?

We were about 17 seconds into the workshop's first exercise, and someone asked: For the purposes of this workshop, what’s a story?


4 Characteristics of a Story

I told him what every speaker says when they get a question they didn't want to answer (Great question!) and scrambled to the flip chart to begin writing my answer to what a story is. Along with tugging on Emma Alvarez Gibson's perspective (and spelling chops), we shared the following list for what a story includes:

  • Relatable characters
  • Ample possibilities for development
  • Conflict and movement
  • An ability to invite the audience’s wonder and curiosity

This on-the-fly list of what defines a story worked to highlight a major point: a story isn’t only something that is written. These four characteristics can apply to images, videos, and various other communications formats that may not include ANY words.

Could I have answered this question ahead of time?


Yet part of the excitement of the presentation was the conflict of personally wondering, CAN I FINALLY ANSWER WHAT A STORY IS? – Mike Brown

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories

Developing and sharing extraordinary stories that resonate with your brand’s most important audiences is an important key to branding success.

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories puts ALL the powerful questions at your disposal to identify, develop, and share authentic stories. It introduces multiple strategies that Idea Magnets use to:

  • Make unexpected connections and generate story ideas
  • Encourage people to share experiences that lead to memorable stories
  • Tell stories through effective techniques that intrigue and engage audiences

Download Your FREE eBook! 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand's Extraordinary Stories!