Thanks for your interest in storytelling!  A detailed explanation of the StorySmart quiz answers can be found below.  If you have additional questions or would like learn how to integrate storytelling into your business communication, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

1. True or False.

In order to create compelling stories, focus on those extraordinary experiences as audiences are more likely to pay attention to them.

Answer: False

Explanation: It’s totally possible to tell a story about meeting a Nobel prizewinner, or winning an Iron Man triathlon, in a snooze-worthy way. But mastering the basic tenets of a good story lets you turn “trivial” everyday events into memorable stories you can leverage in the workplace.


2. True or False.

You don’t have to be explicitly asked to tell a story. In fact, it’s much more captivating for your audience to spontaneously or informally listen stories.

Answer: True

Explanation: You do not have to be explicitly asked. People love stories and will not fault you for telling one during the course of everyday events. You can be interviewing, networking, dialoguing with coworkers, or chatting at a social function when you tell a story. In fact, it’s good to have a few well-crafted stories in mind in case an opportunity arises to tell one on the spot.


3. Which one of the following is the fundamental structure of a story?

A. Beginning, middle, and end.

B. Summary first, deliberate point by point, and then summary again.

C. Tell them what you’re going to say, say it, and tell them what you just said.

D. Talk, talk, and talk some more.

Answer: A.Beginning, middle, and end

Explanation: Beginning, middle and end are fundamental. Granted, sometimes you will need to write a report that delivers a summary, then deliberates point-by-point, then summarizes again—but this isn’t a story. And sure, speakers will often hear the advice to “tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it, and tell them what you just said.” And while it isn’t wrong to do this, it isn’t a story and will not be as effective when it comes to persuasive business interactions.


4. What is the most important part in the beginning of your story?

​A. Establish your credibility

B. Hook your audience’s interest

C. Tell your audience why you’re telling story

Answer: B. Hook your audience’s interest

Explanation: Use the beginning of a story to hook your audience’s interest. People will trust that there’s a reason you’ve been asked to speak, so you don’t have to revalidate it at the start of your presentation. Later on, you can mention your credentials, but don’t sacrifice those crucial beginning moments to do so.


5. All of the following are great ways to begin a story, except…

​A. Time

B. Place

C. “Let me tell you a story…”

D. “Let me share an example…”

Answer: C. “Let me tell you a story…”

Explanation: Since some people in a business audience will be resistant to stories, don’t start with “let me tell you a story.” It’ll make them put their guard up. Set the scene with time or place, or—even better—both. This will pull people in before they realize you’re starting a story, and before they know it, they’ll be hooked (because, after all, people love stories)! If you need a transition into your story, “let me give you an example,” works better —the busiest, most matter-of-fact members of your audience will still expect you to support your points through examples, and you can design stories that will perfectly illustrate those points.

6. All of the following make up the classical definition of story, except one.  Which one is it?

A. Hero/ Protagonist

B. Central Challenge

C. Journey

D. Resolution

E. The point

Answer: E. The point

Explanation: POINT isn’t part of the classical definition of story. In all the classical stories we love, readers are left to put the pieces together and figure out what the story means. Does that mean you shouldn’t specifically mention the point of your business storytelling? Far from it! In business, we want to be absolutely sure audiences have truly heard what we set out to say, so be sure to tell people the point of what they’re hearing at just the right time.


7. True or False.

There are as many different story plots as there are people.

Answer: False

Explanation: There might be thousands of plots, but there are a few basic plots they’re all built from, according to Christopher T. Booker (we’ve whittled the plots he outlines in his book The Seven Basic Plots down to six business plots):

  1. Origin

  2. Quest

  3. Rags to riches

  4. Overcoming the monster

  5. Voyage and return

  6. Rebirth


8. True or False.

Chronology is a must-have element in a strong story.

Answer: False

Explanation: Don’t be handcuffed to chronology. Recounting events is not telling a story! As you plan a story for your next presentation, pitch, or even for an informal business setting, figure out a way to organize those events around a theme, an insight, a deepening awareness, a sense of revelation and—the biggest one—change in the life of the major players.


9. All else being equal, in a lecture of medium interest, what is the maximum length of attention span audiences will give to a lecturer?

A. 30 seconds

B. 3 minutes

C. 10 minutes

Answer: C. 10 minutes

Explanation: Length of attention span: 10 minutes. You have a captive audience and their job is to listen, so 10 minutes is not too much to ask. Listeners tend to start looking at the clock after the first ten minutes, says John Medina in Brain Rules. But even during those first ten minutes, you must work to keep your audience’s attention.


10. How do you spot an fake online product review? One of the following examples provides you with a good clue as to whether a review might be fake.  Which one is it?

A. Fact based information about the product dominates majority of the review.

B. In the review, there is a story connecting the reviewer’s experience with the product.

Answer: B.

In the review, there is a story connecting the reviewer’s experience with the product.

Explanation: Fake online reviews use stories rather than specific information. “Liars tend to think about narrative,” says Stanford social scientist Jeff Hancock. Just because someone has told you a story does not mean they have the best intentions, so it’s important both to enjoy stories and to understand how they work.

Score yourself:

If you got 9-10 correct you are Citizen Kane. Your stories are brilliant and have won universal acclaim! It’s clear you have a strong command of basic business storytelling. Are you finding business success that match your level of StorySmart? Be sure to challenge yourself to apply what you know to everyday communication in and out of work.

If you got 6-8 correct you are Good Will Hunting. You know how to tell a compelling story, and your stories have a following. You most likely can tell a decent story in a business setting. Now you’ll just need to attract wider audiences, hook everyone’s interest from beginning to end, and use what you know for daily storytelling success.

If you got 3-5 correct you are Pitch Perfect 2. Your stories get a few chuckles here and there, but they could be a whole lot stronger and more believable! Brush up on what makes a solid story, learn how to avoid overly predictable or implausible elements, and get comfortable telling well-designed, intriguing stories in casual and formal settings.

If you got 0-2 correct you are Plan 9 From Outer Space. Critics are chewing you up and spitting you out! Your stories need help! Learn the basics of business storytelling structure, get to know your audiences, and seek feedback. You don’t have to be a superhero to tell a good story, so you can certainly improve and win over the toughest critics!

People forget facts - But they never forget a  good story!  For more, storytelling tips, examples and insights, sign up for our Guide to Better Storytelling. Also, Esther Choy's new book, Let the Story Do the Work (published by AMACOM BOOKS), is coming in July 2017. Enter to win a complementary copy.