Explaining a complex process or illustrating an abstract idea is easier when we take a picture of it.

I expect the first travellers to the Egyptian Pyramids were met by itinerant sales people waiving paintings of the desert spectacle because they knew that the tourists would see they could never satisfactorily describe those wonders back home …’well, they’re big and pointy.’

Trying to convey every aspect of an object without having the benefit of a mental picture is a challenge. It’s the same with complex ideas or intricate processes. Keyhole surgery for example. The idea of making a hole in you and pushing a tube in doesn’t sound great until you see how delicate and precise it is on Youtube.

Let’s begin. Everyone is receptive and relaxed because that’s what listening (and even the idea of listening) to a story does to us. It’s in our genes from ancient times.

First we make everyone feel comfortable by setting the scene or context which includes saying the title of theme of the story so everyone feels they know what’s happening. Something like this…

…I’m going to tell this story using the 5C’s process. We’ll start with Context but first let’s imagine that in the presentation, the speaker has been talking about the importance of Trusting Your Instincts and acting on them. ‘



A client, and I were working on a presentation about Achieving Success.


(next we introduce the principal character in the story)

At the end of Day 1 I felt that the presentation narrative we had didn’t add up to the confident, articulate person who had told it i.e. my client.


(now comes an element of conflict or dilemma which challenges our thoughts and forces us to make a decision and take action)

That evening I asked myself how I was feeling about this and ‘troubled’ was the answer that came back.

So when we met up the next morning I just came right out and said, ‘Are you ok with what we’ve got from yesterday?’


My client stared out of the window in silence for what seemed like a very long time, turned, looked at me and slowly began to tell the real story.


Listen to your thoughts and even if you can’t articulate them satisfactorily, if you have a nagging feeling and you can express it gently to the person, go ahead and see what happens. At the very least you will have an interesting discussion and maybe even some life changing insights as a result. 

context + character + conflict + change + conclusion