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  • Writer's pictureLiza Engel

From VIP Dogs to Powerful Messages - Unleashing the Art of Storytelling

Last weekend, I stayed at a hotel with my family to spend time with our dear Swedish friends in the Swiss Alps. I booked the hotel due to its proximity to our friend's apartment while using the usual filters of the number of guests, distance to the train station and dogs allowed. Little did I know I had booked an extraordinary hotel that classified dogs as VIPs (very important pets).



"Snow Angel Alma" Photo by Liza Engel


This experience gave me some insights into storytelling and impactful communication. This story, seemingly mundane on the surface, is all about the essence of inclusion, belonging, and human connection—core elements that can dramatically elevate our communication skills, whether we are addressing an audience from a stage or engaging in one-on-one conversations. Here are three key learnings from this experience that can help anyone looking to refine their presentation and messaging skills.


Understand and Embrace Your Audience

The hotel's dog-friendly policy was a feature and a statement of understanding and empathy towards its guests. If you have a dog, you will know what it feels like to stand in front of a place you want to go to, only to be faced with a no-dogs-allowed sign. So imagine walking into a hotel with a sign at your dog's height saying you are welcome!



Photo by Logan Engel


Similarly, in presentations, knowing your audience—their fears, aspirations, and what makes them feel seen - transforms your message from being just heard to being felt. Recognize that every audience has unique needs and concerns, like guests with pets or children. By addressing these specifically, you can create an environment of inclusion and warmth. This approach captivates and builds a lasting connection with your audience, making your message more impactful.


Key Takeaway:

Tailor your presentation to acknowledge and address your audience's needs and concerns, fostering a deeper connection and resonance.


Draw Inspiration from Everyday Life

The narratives that unfold around us daily are rich sources of insight into the human condition. My encounter at the dog-friendly hotel underscored how everyday experiences could illuminate universal truths about belonging and acceptance. As speakers, we should cultivate the habit of observing and reflecting on these daily occurrences. Whether it paints a positive picture or highlights a challenge, each story harbours the potential to enrich our messages, making them more relatable and engaging. This practice enhances our storytelling impact and equips us with a diverse library of anecdotes to illustrate our points vividly.


Key Takeaway:

Incorporate stories from your daily life into your presentations to humanize your message and make it more relatable and memorable for your audience.


Embrace the Power of Positive Framing

The positive framing of the hotel's dog-friendly features significantly enhanced our stay, turning a simple decision into an unforgettable experience. Even a list of what is allowed and not allowed can be worded with humour and grace. Add some locally made natural doggy treats and cleaning staff that offer to visit your dog while you're out - well, hot digity dog - what an experience!


How we frame our message can profoundly influence how our communication is received. Positivity, even when discussing challenges, can inspire and motivate. It encourages a mindset of growth and possibility, making the audience more receptive to our message. When crafting your presentations, focus on framing your narrative to uplift and empower your audience, transforming even negative stories into lessons of resilience and adaptability.


Key Takeaway:

Use positive framing in your presentations to inspire and motivate your audience, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and learning.


The essence of impactful presentations lies beyond the slides and numbers; it resides in our ability to connect, empathize and inspire. By understanding our audience, drawing inspiration from the world around us, and embracing positive framing, we can elevate our messaging to resonate on a deeper, more human level.

Let the unexpected lessons guide us in refining our stories, turning every presentation into an opportunity to create meaningful connections.


The art of communication is not just about conveying information; it's about creating an experience that leaves a memory, and to leave a memory, we need to touch our audience's hearts and minds. You are welcome!

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