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David LeahyJan 30, 2023 2:39:12 PM4 min read

Storytelling Canvas

What is the Storytelling Canvas for?

The storytelling canvas allows you to collectively design great stories that will resonate with your audience: by harnessing visual, engaging, insightful, controlled, and inspiring elements.


Why we like it

Even if you’re not the next Hemingway, this canvas helps to design stories that people will care to listen to. It adds some structure to a task that is creative in nature, but which still requires a solid foundation and clear direction.


LICENCE:  Creative Commons


How to use it

The Storytelling Canvas gets the best creative results when used with a team. Print it out on A1 or A2 and use sticky notes to capture your ideas, or sketch out your thoughts freehand - whatever works best for your team. You can also use the Google Slides template to do the same on a big screen.




What is the title and subject of your story?


2.  GOAL

What is the goal you want to achieve? Why are you telling the story? What do you want the audience to know, feel or do? Does it relate to a specific part of the customer journey?



Who is your audience? Map them as a persona and write the persona's name here. In the persona you will have captured their needs and what is most important to them. Or use the right half of the value proposition canvas.

Remember if your story is not aimed at customers (e.g. you are pitching to investors, or seeking a new business partner, etc) then your audience is not your customer.



Try to come up with arguments that may change your audience's minds, and make sure you have a list of rational, emotional, and/or ethical points. What is your “proof”? Do you have examples or anecdotes? Find the ones that will resonate with your audience.

There are different key ingredients that you can use to plot your audience's journey through the story. With your team, spend time to come up with a good number of these. Don't bother about the order yet, just try to come up with as many as you can.



A good story is not a flat line; it has ups and downs. Now, it’s time to consider how you might design your own emotional roller coaster. Where is your climax moment? That is the moment you want to use to make your main point.

Like most good stories, the story canvas is divided into three parts: a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning is where you’ll set the scene. The middle is where you’ll put the meat of the story. And the end is where you’ll want to leave your audience: in a new state of mind.

Divide the arguments, examples, and anecdotes. And, for good measure, insert a bit of humor over the three acts. Now have a look at the emotional roller coaster again. Did you follow your idea? Or, do you want to change it?

A thing to consider while organising the pieces of your story is to accommodate different styles of listening. Cater to the rational, organised listeners first; they want to get a clear picture of what you are talking about in order to decide whether they want to listen at all. But don’t forget the others. Emotional listeners are more patient, but they do need emotion or they will get bored.



In order to be meaningful, your story should change your audience in some way. Their beliefs, emotions, or knowledge should be transformed by the time you are finished. What do your audience members feel, think, know, want, etc. about the subjects in your story before they hear it? Here again you can refer to your persona, as well as the customer journey.



Create a context (based on emotion, ethics, or facts) that helps the audience get in the mood of things. It is important to capture your audience's attention early.



What is the main message you want to come across which will help support a change of heart with the audience?



How are you bringing the story to a close? What is your call to action?



How do audience members feel, think, know, want, etc. after they hear the story? Be specific.



Great work - you now have the blueprint of your story. That's the first step. Now get writing and go and test it with a critical audience to understand where it resonates most and where people lost interest. 



  • Facts & figures. These appeal to logic but can be boring.

  • Anecdotes. These give personality and a sense of truth to the story.

  • Examples. Halfway between facts and anecdotes, these bring clarity.

  • Arguments. What logical pros and cons are there for this story? What about your point of view?

  • Fun / emotional. What are things you and your team are enthusiastic about? Or angry? Happy? Try to find a mix.

  • A-ha moment. The one main point you want to make with the story.



  • While designing and telling the story, revisit your Persona and Customer Journey and update them with what you learned.


David Leahy

I'm an industrial marketing consultant, providing senior-level marketing advisory and management services to businesses in manufacturing, engineering and construction.