Boss Lady

5 key elements to use the power of a good story


Let me tell you a story.

Waew (pronounced wow) was horrifically injured in an acid attack as a child. She lost an eye and an ear and her face and body were terribly disfigured. She was sold into a criminal begging ring before she found her way to Sunrise Cambodia at the age of ten. Waew was given a safe place to live, good food, an education and specialist medical care.

Despite her terrible childhood, she is the most friendly and optimistic human you could hope to meet. She is finishing high school this year with the support of Sunrise and is an inspiration to us all. Last year Waew was invited to present at a conference in Geneva on acid burns. So the girl who had lived on the streets and never left rural Cambodia, flew by herself to Switzerland to make a speech in English at an international conference. Wow.

We all know people that are natural storytellers. People are drawn to them and remember their stories for a long time after they are told. The power of a great story can’t be underestimated and while it’s a great skill to have in your social or family life, it can be extremely valuable in your work life too. People want to work with and for great storytellers. Great stories woven into a speech will be remembered. Whilst we are not all born with the knack, there are some key elements we can all learn to use well.


Don’t waffle

Powerful stories must be sharp and succinct. Don’t waffle. I’ve calculated that my best speeches are delivered in three-minute blocks. That’s about the attention span people have for one idea or concept. Keep your stories short.

Show hurdles

The best stories often involve someone rising above adversity. When your protagonist can overcome something that seems insurmountable you fill others with hope. Waew not only survived her horrific childhood, she has gone on to really thrive. The audience thinks that if Waew can achieve that after all she has been through, they too can deal with their own problems.


There needs to be an emotional connection with a character in a story. Waew’s story takes us on an emotional journey. We feel horror and outrage to hear her of her early childhood, relief when she is taken in by Sunrise Cambodia and finally joy and pride when we hear of her trip to Geneva.


A great story leaves you with an important lesson. In Waew’s case the lesson is one of resilience and hope. Just keep going.


A great story ends with a triumph or an unexpected outcome. We are almost cheering for Waew when we learn she is finishing high school and has flown to the conference in Geneva – by herself – to present a speech. What a moment!

Good stories also leave out the bleeding obvious and allow space for personal thought.

Where can you learn more?

Lucy Perry is teaming up with renowned futurist, Bernard Salt and author and comedian, Catherine Deveny to present the LIKEABOSS conference on September 2 in Sydney.

Lucy will be teaching attendees how to weave killer stories into their presentations. Bernard Salt will be providing specific, practical tips for more powerful presentations and Catherine Deveny is exploring the science of humor and how that can be applied in business. Comedy trio TRIPOD will provide comedy glue on the day.

Proceeds from this event will help Sunrise Cambodia to continue to care for at-risk kids, struggling families and poor communities in Cambodia. Tickets from

About Lucy Perry

Lucy Perry – Rule Breaker. Idea Maker. Communicator. Lucy Perry is an international keynote speaker, author, photographer and award-winning leader. She is the CEO of Sunrise Cambodia, which funds the work of legendary Australian humanitarian Geraldine Cox AM.

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