What do the best storytellers do different?

3 things you MUST transfer to your audience

January 30, 2023
min read

Greetings, Chief Storytelling Officers.

I spent Saturday writing 2 of the final chapters of my book I'll be releasing later this year. The ideas and concepts throughout the book will change the way you think about storytelling and more importantly change the way you use storytelling to get results.

One quick thing to announce, this year more of my content will be on Youtube and less on LinkedIn. Many of the videos I make this year will only be on Youtube.

If you want to see them each week, head over here and subscribe to the channel.

Now let's get to what I think might be the most important and impactful newsletter I've ever written for you to win the game of Competitive Storytelling.


DEEP DIVE: The Art of Transference

The toughest case of my career as a trial lawyer was my final one. I was on the defense of a man who had killed his brother. After 100 trials as a prosecutor, I knew the odds were stacked against us. The other thing I knew? This was self-defense and it was up to me to prove it.

When I gave the closing argument after a week long trial, I knew that I had to hit everything just right to pull off the miracle. His fiancee, his step son, and his parents all wanted him to come home. He placed his life in my hands.

I was the only thing that could stop him being sent to prison for 30 years like the prosecutors wanted.

That closing argument is the best piece of storytelling I've ever done. I transferred three things from me to the jury. Emotion, confidence, and conviction.

It saved his life when they came back with a verdict of Not Guilty of Murder.

Whether you’re trying to win a deal, land A-level talent, or close huge venture capital rounds, you’re never going to succeed solely because your company looks good on paper. I see so many founders leading pitches with their resume and results, the pieces of evidence they feel prove they’re worthy of a “yes.” But it’s rarely enough.

In order to win minds, build massive businesses, and create extraordinary impact in the world, you need to transfer more than just data and pedigree to your audience. You need to convey elements that are so undeniable, so attractive, that the audience leaves thinking they’d be CRAZY not to sign on the dotted line.

Here are three things you absolutely need to transfer to your audience during your next pitch:

Transfer of Emotion

Your words—the experience, the data proving your success, even your attempts at connecting with your audience—are black and white. Emotion is color.

It’s like Dorothy opening the door to her tornado-displaced home and seeing the magical new world of Oz in front of her. With emotion, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

If you have the perfect words, but there is no emotion attached to them, you will fail. The receiver must FEEL the emotion you’re sharing in your message.

Transferring emotion is the most critical of these three elements because it’s how most people make decisions. Science backs this up. In the 1990s, Portuguese neuroscientist Antonio Damasio formulated the “somatic marker hypothesis,” a theory that emotions—not logic—lay at the root of every decision we make. Damasio found that patients with frontal lobe damage were incapable of making the smallest decisions—even what food to eat—despite having the ability to walk through all other logical steps of the decision-making process.

For you, this means that basing your pitch on logic will get you nowhere. Your audience JUSTIFIES their decision based on logic. But they decide on emotion.

The other piece of science that helps with transferring emotion is understanding how mirror neurons work. Ever duck reflexively when someone next to you gets hit in the head with a ball? Or felt your heart pound during a particularly tense scene of The White Lotus? Those are your mirror neurons at work.

If your presentation hits the right emotional pitch, your audience will unconsciously mirror your behavior. They’ll actually FEEL the same emotions you’re feeling.

Transfer of Confidence

Just like emotions, confidence is contagious.

You might be the world’s leading expert in your field, but if you don’t show up with that confidence, you will fail.

Sometimes this is as simple as your word choice.

Do me a favor: go back to the last professional email you sent. Highlight any of the following words:

  • May/might
  • Could
  • Many/most/some
  • Few/hardly
  • Often/frequently
  • Usually/sometimes
  • Probably/possibly
  • Basically/essentially/generally
  • Mostly/slightly/somewhat

These are called “qualifiers,” and they soften your message. We lean on these words because we think they make us more approachable, when in reality, they detract from our confidence. Qualifiers convey doubt. You want to speak in absolutes.

Consider these two sentences. Which conveys more confidence?

This product could potentially change the entire eCommerce landscape;


This product will change the entire eCommerce landscape.

Other times, conveying confidence is about delivery. Your voice and body language need to create signals of confidence.

The results of assuming the correct body posture are incredible and well-documented. In her Ted Talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy cited study after study that demonstrates your body language shapes how you show up in the world. By striking what she calls a “power pose,” actually send more confidence signals to your audience—and boost it within yourself.

Transfer of Conviction

Everything can be perfect with your business or idea, but if you have any doubt it will succeed and win, you will fail. A speaker’s lack of conviction creates red flags and uncertainty that an audience can feel viscerally.

Remember: your audience is going into your meeting uncertain. They’re on the fence about whether to participate in your deal, and you can either confirm their position and lose, or you can speak with unwavering conviction in your product or solution and win.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about being inevitable, but it’s a concept that bears repeating. The best founders, athletes, and artists all knew they were going to succeed long before it happened. They possessed this magical sense of knowing the future, that it was their DESTINY to succeed.

I saved conviction for last because it’s the hardest one to transfer. That’s because it is impossible to fake.

You can practice projecting emotion and use tricks to convey confidence, but you can’t just say you have conviction and make it so. You’ve got to speak it from the heart. When you actually BELIEVE you will be a successful founder, your energy changes. And people will notice.

This part might be hard to hear, but no newsletter or class or coach can teach you conviction. It has to come from the fire within you. How bad do you want it? You’re the only one who truly knows.

World-class storytellers know how to transfer all three of these elements, and they do it every single time.

JFK did it when he said we will put a man on the moon.

MLK did it when he said he had a dream.

Malala did it when she said "one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world."

Jobs did it when he said "we're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?"

I don't know who your favorite is, but there's somebody out there who when they speak you feel the emotion, confidence, and conviction.

It’s part art, part science, and pure magic to watch.

Isn't it time that you create some magic?

RESOURCES for Founders and Storytellers

This amazing Ted Talk from former educator Brittany Packnett Cunningham might be the boost you need. Cunningham says she’s “obsessed” with confidence because it’s the “necessary spark before everything that follows.”

Last week I talked about The Joker's perfect investment pitch. I made a video that breaks it down and you can check it out here.


I was watching a David Goggins interview the other day and what he said hit home.

"It's so easy to be great nowadays because most people are weak. Most people don't want to go the extra mile, they don't want to find that extra because it sucks. That's where I gain the advantage."

Be great. Push harder. See you next week.

Looking to go deeper on how to become a world-class storyteller, fundraiser, and founder? You can reach out to set up a call with my team by filling out the form here.

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