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How To Become A Better Storyteller

Updated: Jan 2, 2019

*Including suggested books to master the craft*

I am going to real talk for a second...

90% of what I see on social media these days bores me.

Dakota Adan | Poet

In fact someone asked me just yesterday what brands or people on social media inspired me right now, and with the exception of some close friends and creators, my list came out thin.

I once saw a post from a couple at a gorgeous luxury hotel in Dubai (a hotel that both comes with a hefty price tag, and also was completely sponsoring their stay) that essentially read, "We love being at *not naming names hotel* have you ever been to the *super fancy hotel name I am omitting* in Dubai?"

Thats like asking someone flying coach what they love about first class.

And being the cheeky little brat I am, I commented "nope, but there is a Denny's up the street I've been to a couple times." The point of this isn't that I am obnoxious and shouldn't be allowed to comment on peoples' photos, but they ignored the first major rule of storytelling:

Make your audience care.

Sadly, that experience possessed all the potential of a great story but ended up as a missed opportunity and alienating experience. A far better narrative could have been built around a couple experiencing something new together, the nerves, the fun and the excitement of a new country and the beautiful trappings of the adventure. By crafting a story around common human experience (doing something new with someone you love), we can begin to relate to the characters and of course, care.

The opposite mistake I've both seen and been guilty of myself and it is the belief that maybe my story is not interesting or worth telling.

So lets set the record straight here and now:

If you are here, it is for a reason, and you have a story worth telling.

Dakota Adan | Writer

I used to think I had to be, do, or live some other version of my life in order to have a story worth telling. Its part of the reason I started travel blogging (see last post about quitting here), but that remains the biggest (and most false) block to all good storytelling. I could tell you how to become a better storyteller, maybe you want to know how to use storytelling for your brand, or perhaps you just want to know how to tell better stories on social media; but the answer is always the same.

Speak your truth

Speak it as honestly as you can possibly stand. Take note of this:

Your story is what happened PLUS your honest perspective. As humans, we care far more about how an experience made us feel then what actually happened, and trust me when I say this:

the truth is always more interesting.

If I told you a vague story about Dakota Adan a traveler who country hops taking selfies everywhere he goes, I leave very little for an audience to grab onto. It feels more like a backdoor brag that people might only pay attention to out of courtesy. But, if I told you about Dakota Adan, and the time he broke up with the love of his life to go on a journey of self discovery around the world. Well... now we have a story.

Dakota Adan | Travel Blogger

The truth of who you are will always be more interesting, and the deeper you are willing to dive into yourself, the more beautiful the story will be.


*side note, storytelling is not the same thing as therapy or oversharing. So below I have listed out some of my favorite books for improving your craft.*

  • Long Story Short by Margot Leitman

This book focuses on storytelling from the comedic perspective but has plenty of great exercises to help draw out the real stories from your real life.

  • The Story Factor by Annette Simmons

This book I have reread twice now, and is packed with lots of valuable ways to use stories in your life, no matter who you are or what you do.

  • The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall

  • Made To Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath


Maya Angelou once said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

I believe there can be no greater joy, than the moment you decide to speak.

I can't wait to hear your story.

Dakota Adan | Poet

If you feel so inclined, join the community, tell me your approach to storytelling in the comments, or if you're feeling brave share part of your story. If you found this valuable tell a friend, or join the mailing list (I hate spam just as much as you do). And if not, thank you for spending a few minutes with this old dreamer. I am humbled to have received your time.

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