I know you'll hate this email

It’s the first time I’m skiing with my girlfriend, and I realise she’s cheating on me. 

We just got back together after years apart, and she is lying to me already. 

Last weekend, she’d gone away with her craziest party girlfriend. When she got back, she couldn’t sit properly. 

“Ahm, Patrícia, what’s the deal with your butt??”

“I fell on the ski slopes lots of times. I suck at it. I think I bruised something.”

But when we are skiing together, I find out that is BS. 

I make my way to the bottom of the slope first, look up, and I see her tearing down the mountain. 

Flying straight down, like a bullet, and I think, 

“There’s no way someone who can ski like that fell on her ass multiple times.”

So I start getting ready for an uncomfortable conversation. 

I know she’s going to deny it, and we’re going to argue about it. 

And if she doesn’t deny it… I can’t even think about that. 

But that’s when I realise she isn’t slowing down. 

At all. 

She is getting near the bottom of the slope and still picking up speed. 

On a straight course for the fence. 

That’s when I realise she has no idea what she’s doing. She’s speeding because she doesn’t know how to slow down or stop.

I see a large guy making his way across her path. I suck at geometry but I just know they’re going to collide, and only one will walk away from that - I doubt it will be her. 

Before I can shout a warning, she hits him with all she has and bowls him over. 

The guy starts to get up, and I look around for an ambulance. 

But a moment later, she gets up as well. 

Luckily, no one was hurt - except her pride. 

When we go to the slopes now, I ski and she drinks hot chocolate. 

She never had trouble sitting again. 

And I learned to stop jumping to conclusions. 

The less you know, the better the story 

I hate stories that say things like “This was the worst night of my life” or “I didn’t know it back then, but…”

Then the character or narrator knows the future. They are no longer living through it, finding things out with us. They know how it will all turn out. And that’s no good because, in a story, uncertainty equals tension. 

The more uncertainty the characters experience, the more engaging the story will be. 

Unless what you know is wrong 

You can also improve your story by doing the opposite: tell the audience what’s going to happen - but get it wrong

I’m not suspecting my girlfriend, I “realise she’s cheating on me.” I “find out” it’s BS. I “know” how the conversation with go, and that “only one will walk away.”

I’m wrong every time, but I believed in those things then. I can be true to what I thought and felt in the moment, and I can also keep you guessing. I become an unreliable narrator. And if you don’t know what happens next, you have at least one good reason to keep reading. 

I used the same technique in the subject line of this email - I hope I actually got that wrong ;-)

(By the way, even if I was sure you’d love it, saying “You’ll love this email” would just make you think I was an arrogant knob - and I’m trying to hide that at all costs 😅)

So don’t tell me you already know what’s going to happen. Let’s find out together. Or tell me, and get it wrong. 

Then your stories will hit harder than my girlfriend skiing down the slopes 🤘


Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Getting clarity through your story to stand out from all the other coaches, speakers and entrepreneurs out there 

  2. If you dream of speaking at a TED-style conference, we can find your idea, book the talk of your dreams and deliver it with impact

  3. If you (or your team) got any storytelling challenges, I’m sure there’s something we can do together ;-)

Thanks for reading! Reply any time.