The subtle art of storytelling

How can a $1 horse be sold for a hundred bucks? Pretty easy, there are multiple ways to weave a narrative around your product or service which can set you apart from the crowd. Anh Nguyen, subscription marketing lead at YouTube APAC, shares her valuable insight into the secret to good storytelling for any product or brand. Storytelling is a crucial skill to master for any startup as it helps to inspire potential hires, customers and investors - to believe in your brand. The aim is to cut through the noise and communicate succinctly but effectively. Inspirational stories form the bedrock of effective communication, and they help to convey the sheer passion and drive behind incredible ideas.




The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

Less is always more

They say the mark of true understanding is the ability to translate any learning into its simplest form for the layman. A good marketer would then think of creative ways to elevate this storyline to pique the interest of an audience. A good exercise in adopting this practice is through summarising popular movie plots into simple sentences and offering unique perspectives.

For instance, a marketer could sell Snow White as a story of how "A guy kisses a dead girl in the woods while seven guys watch". The objective is to illustrate how storytelling elevates ordinary ideas to extraordinary experiences. An idea when presented with its underlying motivations is so much more powerful.

Identify your challenges

Once you can identify your immediate challenges, the steps needed to overcome them become clearer. Three common hurdles of storytelling include 1) the attention deficit of the audience, 2) the time and creativity needed to simplify your plot and, 3) the investment needed in refining all presentation and communication skills.

To start with, never underestimate the foundations of basic humanity. You'll be surprised by how easily an intimate connection can be achieved when telling a story. Don't forget a simple point that all individuals, despite their interests, upbringing and backgrounds, share the same set of core emotions. Appeal to your audience's senses and desires and create a story for your brand that resonates with who you are as a person, that calls the core of your brand. Personal anecdotes that everyone can relate to, lead to easy memory recall.

Why storytelling matters

Storytelling is the basic human way of passing on knowledge and communicating (before people could read and write). Stories help bridge the gap between our logos and pathos; when an audience becomes emotionally receptive to facts, chances increase that they will respond and act on the knowledge. Stories provoke shared emotion, which is the foundation of empathy and can be easily digested by the human brain, therefore, making these facts easier to retain.


The rule of thirds

When presenting these five elements, a very special triangulation framework will help shape the intent and flow of your storytelling to ensure you stay on point.

Personal story: Why you do what you do. What is your story about, what challenges did you experience, the choices you made, lessons learnt, what are your values, what do you care for most?

Group story: Create a shared sense of belonging and destiny with the people around you. What challenges are you solving for users, investors and clients? How does this relate back to your audience? Help each individual to understand both his or her unique contribution and the distinctive contribution of others. For e.g with Tesla (pictured below)

Dream/Now story: Communicates a sense of urgency and a sense of hope. Spell out the choices your audiences have (risks and rewards). Lastly, provide a description of where things are going, and how you will get there.

Know your ending before the beginning of your story in order to not stray away from the topic. Always keep in mind the top three things you'd like your audience to take away and reiterate those points. Study your audience and know what they care about and appeal to that sentiment. And of course, practice makes perfect. Tell your story to as many people who will listen and tell it over and over until you refine it perfectly.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
Founder Stories
5 min read
Sarah Hilmy: Inspiring friends and families to discover the world together

“Holidays are a way for you to enrich your own life. It's about going out and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn't experience in your everyday life, trying new food, meeting new people, and just learning more about the world in a first-hand way.” —Sarah Hilmy, co-founder of travel platform Oddysee.

5 min read
50 creators to watch in 2023

As the creator economy continues to grow, expand, and evolve, we've curated a list of 50 exciting leaders to watch in this space. Influencers. Journalists. Operators at prominent creator-related platforms. Founders. These are the players—seen and unseen—who underpin the global creator ecosystem.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Sharon Li & Vanessa Chen: Empowering employees to be their healthiest and most productive selves

“People sometimes think the emotional and professional are conflicting, but what we believe is when people love their organization, the emotional value will actually make them productive. It will make them give their full self to the organization and make the organization grow for the long term.” —Sharon Li, co-founder and CEO of CHOYS

5 min read
The 2023 Creator Economy: A new direction

Our creator economy insights series—starting with our ultimate guide to the creator economy in May 2021—has tracked the explosion of a sector that upended the professional aspirations of the next generation. Today, as uncertainty and macroeconomic challenges pervade, how are creators pivoting and what does it mean for the sector's future?

Founder Stories
5 min read
Piet Hein van Dam: The seasoned data entrepreneur aiming to eradicate type 2 diabetes

Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Bringing a clarity of vision to our latest spotlight is Piet Hein van Dam, co-founder of Clear, the award-winning digital self-help tool for diabetes patients.

5 min read
Unpacking the $80+ billion ONDC opportunity: India’s next startup catalyst

India's approach to unbundle payments made the world look up and take notice. Now it's time to disrupt commerce with the Open Network for Digital Commerce or ONDC. In our latest Theory of Next deep dive we mapped, researched, and reached out to every network participant live on ONDC right now.

And we're excited to share with you a comprehensive what could be India's next unicorn catalyst with inputs from Vibhor Jain (COO of ONDC), Sujith Nair (Founding member of Beckn Protocol), and founders building on ONDC!

Co-authored by Nitin Sharma (Partner, Antler) and Gokul Kumaravelu.

5 min read
Five steps investors can take to support more diverse founders

Despite growing calls to create a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem and remove the barriers to entrepreneurship, only a fraction of funding is raised by founders from underrepresented communities.

The first step towards change is quantifying the challenge. While in-depth research has been conducted about women founders and founders from ethnic minority backgrounds, data has never existed about tech founders from the LGBTQ+ community—until now.

5 min read
A record year for Europe's leading day zero investor

A look back at 2022, a record year for the leading day zero investor in Europe—showcasing investment activity and key predictions for the early-stage tech ecosystem in 2023.