Regardless of where your story is shared, who should the storyteller be? More specifically, what skills and traits does the ideal storyteller possess? 

There are three specific attributes—clarity, confidence, and caring—to look for (or hone) as you’re preparing to deliver the story to your audience.

1. Clarity

In 1944, the United States Air Force began to bomb Japan in the hopes of ending World War II. The American bomber planes flew high over the Japanese islands but kept missing their targets badly. Something was wrong. An onboard military meteorologist discovered that 200+ mile per hour winds were pushing the planes faster than in recorded history. At the time, that seemed impossible.

These days, we have a name for those high-altitude, high-speed winds—the Jet Stream. It was a revolutionary find. But the U.S. Air Force wasn’t the first to discover the Jet Stream—just the first to clearly communicate their findings.

The global air current was originally discovered 18 years earlier by Japanese meteorologist Wasaburo Oishi. Oishi completed over 1,300 experiments observing the high-altitude wind stream before publishing a paper on it in 1926. Normally, a paper like that would have caused an international stir. It would have made Oishi famous, at least in the scientific community. But in his case, no one noticed. Why not? 

Because besides being a meteorologist, Oishi was a dedicated Esperantist—someone who speaks Esperanto, an artificial language created in the 1870s. And Oishi published his groundbreaking paper on the Jet Stream in Esperanto.

Esperanto has a small but dedicated following. An estimated 100,000 people globally speak some degree of the language, but the numbers were much smaller in 1926. Enough so that a groundbreaking scientific discovery published in the obscure language could go largely ignored for decades.

Oishi’s example teaches us that we must speak the same language as our audience. That doesn’t just mean the general language like English or Spanish—it also means the nuances of language like word choice and dialect. 

Good storytellers understand how their audience speaks and adjust their voice to match.

2. Confidence

He lives vicariously through himself. 

He’s been known to cure narcolepsy, just by walking into a room.

He’s a lover, not a fighter, but he’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.

The police often question him, just because they find him interesting.

He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels.

He is the Most Interesting Man in the World.

He was also the iconic face of Dos Equis beer for over a decade in a critically-acclaimed and wildly popular advertising campaign for the Mexican beer company. With a list of attributes rivaled only by Chuck Norris for internet meme supremacy, “The Most Interesting Man in the World” certainly had ample confidence and charisma.

Storytellers can learn a few things from Dos Equis about confidence. “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign was a bold character to introduce, but it paid off. It showed faith in their brand, but also in their ability to pull off a fun campaign that would represent them well. 

Part of that shows in TMIMITW’s (boy, that’s a long acronym) catchphrase: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” They had the clarity to know that a guy this interesting is going to prefer tequila. He’s not going to tie himself to one beer brand. They had enough humility to keep it realistic—at least as realistic as a guy who lives vicariously through himself.

By the way, Dos Equis’ indomitable ad campaign is among the few examples of a business successfully leveraging a fictional story. Believe it or not, “The Most Interesting Man in the World” doesn’t actually exist (gasp!), but was created by a marketing agency for the Mexican beer company. The goal was to build a fake character that represents the whimsical and bold nature of Dos Equis. When it comes to this level of creativity, it’s often wise to trust this to the professionals.

Anyone who shares the stories for your brand should do their best to embody this same confidence as “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Both confidence that the story is worth telling and confident in their own ability to share it. Otherwise, you’re stuck stammering and shuffling in front of your audience, which is an unneeded distraction.

Practice your storytelling. Sharpen your skills. Develop your craft. And if all else fails, drink a few beers before going on stage.

3. Caring

The exhibit looked like a giant shoebox. Which was appropriate, because it was filled with other people’s shoes. The giant shoe box was also filled with their stories—primarily photographs and audio recordings of more than 30 people who worked in and use the British health care system.

Titled A Mile in My Shoes, the immersive exhibit was a partnership between the United Kingdom’s Health Foundation and The Empathy Museum. On display back in 2016, the award-winning exhibit gave visitors an insight into what it was like to be a doctor, pharmacist, or parametric.

Visitors were invited to slip on a pair of shoes, donated by the real people featured in the audio recordings. The goal was to build empathy for these healthcare workers and help to expand the public’s perspective on the practice of medicine.

“I walked in Becky’s shoes, a working mom caring for a little boy with severe learning difficulties,” said Jayne Chidgey-Clark, a clinical associate in the England National Health Service. “Looking down and thinking that she’d worn these shoes in her struggles made me really be able to hear her story and really empathize with her.”

Empathy and caring are crucial parts of the entire Story Cycle, but no more than during the sharing process. This is when your organization interacts most directly with your audience. They’re looking to you for guidance. Only by responding to them with understanding and sensitivity will you earn their trust. This goes for both the audience and the people whose stories you’re sharing.

Include details in your story to show that you know who you’re speaking to. Speak to them with respect and dignity, no matter who they are. It’s not enough to say you care about them, you must show that you do. There’s a balance to strike between caring and confidence, but it’s one worth finding.

Continue the Story Cycle

This blog post is a modified excerpt from the new book, The Story Cycle. It outlines the six phases of storytelling within any organization. The book is meant to be a resource for any business leader, entrepreneur, or marketing professional on leveraging your stories for greater growth and impact.

Make storytelling easier for your organization by learning from real-world examples and practical advice. Learn more or order your copy at

About the Author

Robert Carnes is a writer, author, and digital marketer. He works as the marketing manager at GreenMellen, a digital marketing agency in Marietta. Robert is the author of three books about storytelling, including The Story Cycle published in 2022.