Adding stories to your speech is one of the powerful persuasion tools on the planet. Stories originated in 700 BC. We’ve been telling stories ever since. Stories are how history would be passed down from generation to generation. Stories allowed us to captivate audiences before television and radio. Stories are often how we get children to fall asleep. That was through fairy tales, folk tales, and tall tales.
The Elements of a Fairy Tale Story
There are several elements that fairy tales have.
- They always start with a time and a place. Once upon a time in a village far far away. That relaxes the audience and lets them know they are in for a good story.
- They always have a villain. For example, the wicked witch or someone who is a troublemaker.
- Usually, they have a happy ending.
Example Fairy Tale
Here’s an example fairy tale I like to share that goes through the elements:
Once upon a time in a village far far away there was a king. The king was getting up in years. He had 1 son, the prince. He wanted his son to find a bride and give him an heir to the throne. The son was very finicky and couldn’t find any maidens to his liking. So the king decided to throw a big feast and invite all the maidens near and far to the party. Surely the prince would be able to pick a bride among all of the princesses. The party came, the maidens came. They ate and drank until their bellies were quite full. But, the prince didn’t find any maidens. That made the king so mad and kicked his son out and said, “Don’t you come back until you find a bride.”
The prince got up on his horse and started to ride out of the castle. He rode and rode and rode. At the edge of the property, he saw a tree with 3 oranges on it. He walks over to the tree and picked an orange and put it in his pocket, and he picked the second orange and put it in his pocket, and then he picked the third orange and put it in his pocket. He got back up on his horse and rode and rode and rode and rode. He started to get a bit thirsty. He remembered that the oranges in his pocket. He took an orange out of his pocket, opened it up, and “poof” a lady popped out. This lady was beautiful with lovely brown hair and hazel green eyes, and she said, “Do you have any water?” He said, “No, I just have this orange.” And poof, she disappeared.
Prince got back up on his horse, riding and thinking about that. As he continues to ride and now is way out in the desert, he gets thirsty again. So he takes out his next orange and opens it up. And poof, a lady appears with blond hair and big brown eyes, and she is more beautiful than the first lady. She asks, “Do you have any water?” He said, “No… no I don’t have any water. I just have this orange” And just like that, she disappears too.
Now, he’s not a dumb prince. He realizes that those oranges are magic. This time he waited. He rode and rode and searched and searched. And finally sees an oasis. He got off his horse and runs to the water to make sure it’s real. He puts the water to his lips and drinks the water. Then he gets himself ready, takes out the third orange, and poof a lady appears. She was more beautiful than the other two. She had beautiful red hair and big blue eyes. Then she asks, “Do you have any water?” The prince says, “Yes. Yes! Drink, drink, drink.” She drank and she didn’t disappear. So, he asked, “What are you doing in that orange?” She said, “The wicked witch put an evil spell on me and cast me into the orange and only a prince could free me.” He said, “Well I’m a prince.” Plus, he liked her and asked her, “Will you marry me? May I have you as my bride?” And she said excitedly, “Yes.”
She jumped on his horse, and they went riding back to the palace as fast as they could. Word got there faster than they could. The king got everything ready to welcome and marry them on the spot. All the people in the kingdom joined them. The king welcomed them, and they got married immediately.
In the meantime, the wicked witch was watching. She was stirring her brew and could see in her brew what was happening that they were going to get married. She was so mad and was kicking. She came up with a plan. She put together a basket of apples, oranges, and hairpins. And she took off for the palace with the basket.
Well, the princess was taking off her wedding gown and taking care of herself before her wedding night. And as customary for the times, the prince was off hunting with his hunters. The wicked witch walked outside the princess’ bedchamber calling out sweetly, “Apples, oranges, hairpins. Apples, oranges, hairpins.” The princess hears this and invites the old lady up and into the bedchamber of the princess. The wicked witch shows the princess the basket of goodies. She tells the princess, “This pearl hairpin would look gorgeous in our beautiful red hair.” The princess graciously bent down, and the witch stuck it into the princess’ hair and, poof the princess turned into a dove and flew away. The wicked witch was very happy and left the palace.
Meanwhile, out hunting, the prince comes across this dove that sat on her shoulder. He decides he would take it home to his new bride. He was a little surprised how the dove wasn’t afraid of him and just sat on his shoulder the whole way home. Upon arriving home, he looks for the princess. He looks in the bedchamber and she’s gone. He goes to the kitchen and the garden, but she is nowhere to be found. He was so heartbroken. He then put the bird in the golden cage and forgot about it.
Months go by and the prince got so sad and depressed. The king was getting more ill by the day. One day, the prince was In the garden being sad and came across the golden cage with the dove. He opens the cage, takes out the dove, and starts petting the dove on the head. As he’s stroking the dove, he feels something hard on her head. He pulls back the feathers and there’s a little pearl. He thinks, “What is this doing here?” So he pulls it and pulls it until it comes out, and poof a lady appears. It’s his beautiful bride. He asked, “Why were you a dove?” She told him what the wicked witch did. That made him so angry. He gathered his knights and the army and weapons to go and kill the witch. Meantime the witch is stewing her brew and sees what’s happening and she gets really mad. Her little legs start kicking and kicking more vigorously. All of a sudden, poof she falls into the pot and she burns up. There’s smoke everywhere and her house burned up too.
Well, the bride and groom had their baby, the heir to the throne. That made the king very happy. And they lived happily ever after.
That is an example of a fairy tale based upon the original story format we have been listening to since childhood.
Summary of the Fairy Tale Story Arc
There’s a time and a place. Something happens. There’s some opposition. In my story, the wicked witch was the opposition. In real life, you would say, “One day…” and you fill in the event that changes the course or trajectory of one’s future. Then you must solve the problem this antagonist or opposition causes the cast of characters (heroes and heroines) to face.
The prince who was going along fine. The father/king was the villain at first putting the first challenge out – to find a bride. The prince didn’t take it very seriously in the beginning. Then he found the oranges. The moment he opened the orange, he was facing a new challenger. This event of opening the orange changed his life by the time he opened the third orange he found his first solution.
The wicked witch came in twice where she created opposition. She became the new villain (or antagonist) as we learned she put the princess in the orange. That that had to be overcome (the problem the villain created) to get to a resolution. Then we can go on with the next chapter where she cast another spell that created the next challenge. Once this was resolved, we wrap up the story with a positive ending.
That’s how to tell a great story whether it’s a fairy tale, business story, or any other story.
Practice the Fairy Tale to Learn Great Story Telling Skills in Business
Fairy tale stories are a great model for telling a variety of business stories (except the success story).
You can learn all about these 4 types of stories to tell when speaking here:
I also cover in detail how to craft each of the four stories you must master when speaking in the following linked articles: