Lesson 5: Start & Finish

Storytelling Education - Lesson 5

Lesson 5: The Importance of the start and finish of a story

Make it sweet!

Win the audience first. Then deliver the 'goods' so they feel satisfied at the end.

Starting and finishing a story is an important skill.

Be particular, be well rehearsed and think about how the audience will receive what you say.

First Impressions


The start is important for first impressions.

You want to be very clear on how you will start.

The start will set the tone, build instant rapport and tells a person’s brain “Look out! this person is someone we need to listen to!”

The start of your story should play a strategic role in the crafting of your story as a whole. This does not mean it needs to be any particular way – simply that you must carefully consider it and know what you are going to do, how and why.

Your objective is to:

  1. Connect with the audience and get them on your side:
    • “I just like this person, they seem nice”.
  2. Create interest and curiosity:
    • “I want to hear and find out about this story”.
  3. Establish authority:
    • “This person is worth listening to”.

The key here is – consider your overall intent and select a introduction that will support it.

Set the flavour at the start.

Some variations include

  • Start with humour.
  • Simply to jump straight in without any preamble. Then introduce later on… or perhaps not at all.
  • Start by saying “before I start…” and actually begin
  • Just do an everyday introduction.
  • Do a formal introduction that is separated from your story.

The first few moments are important but a shaky start can be recovered and great first impressions can be revoked.

Satisfying finishes


The time you take to tell your story MUST justify the finish.

The longer the better the finish must be. Otherwise you risk creating a feeling of disappointment and resentment.

You know that feeling when you feel like your time has been wasted. Where all the anticipation leads nowhere!

Therefore, make the audience feel justified and reward them for listening to you.

It is recommended that you work out the story finishes that you most enjoy and employ that technique.


For past storytellers, we have identified that audience attention only lasts so long.

Remember you have the wolf by the ears - you are on the bucking bull.

Holding attention is a difficult skill.

The advice here is get in and get out. Don't linger.

Especially towards the end of your story, it needs to ever increase in 'propositional value' to hold the attention - and to reward that attention adequately - so that your audience feels justified in waiting.

Drawn out

Everyone always wants to add more. Just don't do it.

Don't overstay your welcome. Instead leave the audience wanting more.

Finish before you think you should finish.


Completion of a story is very important. You want to deliver a powerful conclusion that will resonate with the rest of your story and create a strong emotional response in the audience.

The finish satisfies all that has been alluded to within the story in a way equal or greater than the audience expects. It leaves the lasting impression the person will take away.

Remember: “The last impression is the lasting impression!”

Consider your last words and DO NOT end on a weak note.

Finish while it’s hot!


In Lesson 5 we have emphasised:

Win Early

At some point you must win the audience to your side. You must get them to like you.

Earlier the better.


Be purposeful about how you start and finish. Do it with an intended outcome in mind.

Be strategic.


Set clear expectations for you to fulfil.

Win with Humour.

Establish Authority (Competence).

Introduce the challenge.

Value proposition.

Set the end state.

Create Intrigue.


Leave the audience wanting more.

Get the audience to recall emotions and memories. Create a relevant finish.


Deliver an ending worthy of the time you have taken.

Be strategic in your finish.

Be memorable in a good way.