Grab a tent pole folks …

At this point in our storytelling journey, we’ve arrived at one of the more uncomfortable elements. Tension.

Why the tent pole?

Because tension, and it’s brothers conflict and controversy, hold up your story like a tent pole holds up a tent.

While conflict may be something you choose to avoid in your daily life, in the world of storytelling, you must seek it out, grab hold of it, and use it to hold up your story. A story that uses tension engages your audience and compels them to take action!

Good business insights, like good stories, also require tension. An insight without tension will fall flat. An insight WITH tension has the impact to drive change and action for a brand or business.  Tension reveals what’s at stake and what’s to be done about it.


Watch three expert Storymasters share how to face conflict head on, and come out alive holding the best insights!

Who is your ally?

COO, Lisa Osborne shares the perfect example of a killer insight, what the tension was and how that tension contributed to the insight's power. 

Keanu Reeves teaches us about tension.

Storyologist, Stephanie Spencer shares one piece of advice she would give story crafters regarding the identification and use of tension in stories for business. 

What to do when faced with a seemingly impossible challenge.

Chief Design and Communication Director, Robin Algaze shares her favorite business presentation and how conflict contributed to the story’s impact.


Use before-and-after images in your presentation to establish empathy and develop an emotional connection with your audience.

Good sources include home design websites such as Better Homes and Gardens and Apartment Therapy.

Find the tension and conflict in your story by asking yourself these four questions…


Have things changed over time and, if so, what is prompting these changes?

Example: Customer loyalty has declined year after year and you've identified key factors influencing this downward trend.


Can you write a conflict statement?

Example: Protagonist [main character] wants [their goal/quest] BUT the antagonist [barrier standing in the way] is [what is at the core of the challenge].


Who are the 'main characters' in your story? What, if any, inherent tension do you see within characters or in how these characters engage with one another?

Example: Your target consumer vs. challenges they may have with your brand OR your target consumer vs. the goals or standards they have set for themselves around a key area in
their life.


Is there an unmovable force or barrier that is standing in the way of success or a desired end goal?

Example: Headwinds keeping your business from growing.

Examples of tension and conflict are everywhere…

Thanks for spending some tense moments with us! We’d love to continue the conversation with you.

Curious about how to get the best insight from your research? Want to amp up your visual stories? Need to talk big picture story? Email us at