A Storytelling Mistake that Destroys Audience Buy-In

What are Speakers Neglecting to do?

So often I’ll coach a speaker who does everything right with his story until the end of it. He establishes the conflict, escalates it, and gets the cure or revelation. But guess what happens then? He ends the story!

Hello, do you mean to tell me you’re going to take us down to the depths of your struggle and make us relive those down times with you and then, when you get to the big payoff part of your journey, we’re not invited?

If you take us through the problem, make sure you take us through the payoff

Payoff Example

One payoff I have involves a Vice-President of a company trying to offer me more money so that I won’t leave the organization to pursue my dream. It was a struggle (problem) because I felt like I couldn’t leave.  My wife then told me, “Craig, your dream is not for sale.”

So I went back to the Vice President of the company and told him, “My wife said my dream is not for sale.” With the help of my wife, I overcame the conflict. After overcoming the conflict, you can listen below to hear what I gave as the payoff (the Change).

That’s a heck of a payoff isn’t it? It encourages other people to not let the good get in the way of the best in their lives too and not to sell out their dreams. They’re 80% across the bridge to buying into my message and I haven’t even driven home the point yet.

Don’t take us through a problem without taking us through the payoff.

In fact, I strongly suggest that you make the payoff at least equal to (and hopefully greater than) the problem in terms of your emotions.  That’s why I intentionally say, “…and I’m HAPPY to say I’ve been running my mouth ever since.”

Happy is the emotion. Keep in mind, I also have to show “happy” on my face and in my body and in my energy. Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you ARE speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” Show it while you say it.


Why is the Payoff Important?

This payoff is very important to your audience because it pushes them 80% across the bridge to heeding your message (i.e. chasing your dream) before you even begin to drive the message home. In other words, when you take them through your emotional payoff, the story gets their buy-in.

So many speeches are ruined by neglecting to have a payoff that is at least equal (and hopefully greater than) the problem in terms of your emotions.

Remember, people make decisions with emotion backed up by logic. Therefore, you can’t simply tell them the payoff. You need to show them the payoff through your own emotional victory. Relive it.

How can you make sure have an effective Payoff?

The questions to ask yourself to help clarity and emphasize your payoff are the following:

  • What was my payoff?
  • What happened to me after I transcended my conflict?
  • How did my life change for the better?
  • How did I feel after I overcame that conflict?
  • How can I express that feeling to my audience so they’ll know how much the payoff meant to me and how much a similar payoff can mean to them?
  • How can I SHOW THE PAYOFF on my face, through my body language, and in my newfound energy?


The stronger your payoff, the easier it will be for people to buy-into your message even before you drive it home.

Post the following statement somewhere you can see it:

If you take us through the problem, take us through the payoff


Receive $100 off until January 18th, 2015

Receive $100 off until January 18th, 2015

Note: If you’d like help with your payoff or any other part of your story, click here to access my best-selling program called the Edge Of Their Seats Storytelling Home-Study Course for Speakers. You’ll be glad you did.

In fact, to thank you for being a loyal reader of my newsletter, you can use the following COUPON CODE to get a $100 discount on the program: 11815. Make sure you hit APPLY after you enter the code. This offer lasts until January 18th, 2015 (hence the code).


Your Turn

What is one payoff you share with your audience? What’s the emotion?




Craig Valentine

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