102 of the Most Inspiring Storytelling Quotes of All Time

February 2, 2016

Stories have been shared in every culture for millions of years – starting with rudimentary drawings by people who lived in caves – as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.

The ancient art of storytelling has made its way to the boardroom, but some people – including marketers – still wonder if it’s that big of a deal. The truth is, whether you’re trying to sell your product or service, your company or even yourself, you need to be able to tell a story. And bullets on a PowerPoint slide are not a story.

With that, here are 102 of the most amazing quotes on storytelling ever written to help you keep on keepin’ on when you need a little inspiration:

1. ‘The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic ‘right-brain’ thinkers.” -Daniel Pink

2. “Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in heart forever.” – Native American Proverb

3. “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” – Robert McKee

4. “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”– Rudyard Kipling, English short-story writer, poet and novelist

5. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin



7. “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis, speaker and best-selling author of Brandscaping and Town, Inc.

8. “We cannot create a world we can’t imagine and stories are the engines of our imaginations.” – Josh Stearns

9. “That’s what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.” – Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks

10. “Storytelling is the mother of all ‘pull’ marketing strategies. It encourages dialogue, engagement and interaction among equals – an exchange of meaning between people. Yet many companies and brands are still relentlessly pushing messages out, hoping that with enough repetition, something will stick.” – Bill Baker, principal of BB&Co Strategic Storytelling

11. “We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” John Gottschall, author, in The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

12. “The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.” – Ben Okri, Nigerian poet and novelist

13. “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman, best-selling British author

14. “Every great love starts with a great story…” – Nicholas Sparks, American writer and novelist, in The Notebook

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16. “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” – Brandon Sanderson, American fantasy and science fiction writer, in The Way of Kings

17. “To hell with facts! We need stories!” – Ken Kesey, American novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure

18. “Story telling is about connecting to other people and helping people to see what you see.” – Michael Margolis

19. “It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” – Patrick Rothfuss, American writer and college lecturer, in The Name of the Wind

20. “Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compasses.” – Aleks Krotoski, The Guardian

21. “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.” – William Archer, Scottish critic and writer

22. “Well, if storytelling is important, then your narrative ability or your ability to put into words or use what someone else has put into words effectively, is important too.” – Howard Gardner, American psychologist

Mark Margolis

24. “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” – Ira Glass

25. “The story-making process enables us to simplify complex information into the core essence of understanding.” – Y. Gabriel, Storytelling in Organizations

26. “The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic slice of truth, wisdom, is dying out.” – Walter Benjamin

27. “Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.” – Tim O’Brien

28. “For me, the drive is storytelling. To be a part of an art that tells a story and to be a catalyst, a color in that, is very exciting.” – Alden Ehrenreich

29. “The storytelling gift is innate: one has it or one doesn’t. But style is at least partly a learned thing: one refines it by looking and listening and reading and practice – by work.” – Donna Tartt

30. “If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And here I made a rule – a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.” – John Steinbeck in East of Eden

31. “Storytelling captures an aspect of childhood experience when being told a story was a common ritual. It’s a warm place for most of us and in some ways represents our first listening experience in really listening.” – Paul Lansky

32. “Essentially, a story expresses how and why life changes.” – Robert McKee

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 34. “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama

35. “There are 2 ways to share knowledge. You can push information out. You can pull them in with a story.” – Unknown

36. “You have to understand that the shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.” – Anthony de Mello

37. “To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen

38. “You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.” – Margaret Atwood

39. “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

40. “I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.” Flannery O’Connor

41. “70 percent of what we do involves staring into space and trying to figure out what the hell happens next.” – Robert Gregory Browne

42. “People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” – Steven Spielberg

Alan Rickman

44. “If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in their daily lives, tell them a compelling story.” Annette Simmons

45. “Tell a relevant, targeted, transparent story, and the whole world will share it.” – Randall Lane

46. “I realized the importance of having a story today is what really separates companies. People don’t just wear our shoes, they tell our story.” – Blake Mycoskie, founder and chief shoe giver, TOMS

47. “When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,0001?” – Mark Cuban

48. “The power of storytelling is exactly this: to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.” – Paulo Coelho

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50. “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” – Robert McKee, creative writing instructor

51. “If you’re sitting in your minivan, playing our computer animated films for your children in the back seat, is it the animation that’s entertaining you as you drive and listen? No, it’s the storytelling. That’s why we put so much importance on story. No amount of great animation will save a bad story.” – John Lasseter, producer and chief creative officer, Pixar Studios

52. “The public has an appetite for anything about imagination: anything that is far away from reality as is creatively possible.” – Steven Spielberg, director, producer, screenwriter

53. “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” – Jean Luc Godard, film director, screen writer, film critic

54. “Drama is real life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock, film director and producer

55. “The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” – Harold Goddard, head of the English Department, Swarthmore College, 1909-1946

Dan Pink

57. “The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” – Mary Catherine Bateson

58. “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” ­– Muriel Rukeyser

59. “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” – Hannah Arendt

60. “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.” – Studs Terkel

61. “We live in story like a fish lives in water. We swim through words and images siphoning story through our minds the way a fish siphons water through its gills. We cannot think without language.” – Christina Baldwin

62. “The stronger the dialog, the stronger the brand; the weaker the dialog, the weaker the brand.” – Larry Webber

63. “Facts don’t persuade, feelings do. And stories are the best way to get at those feelings.” – Tom Asacker

64. “Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Consequently, stories often pack more punch than sermons. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story.” – Janet Litherland

65. “At its very core, marketing is storytelling. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey – appealing to our wants, needs and desires – while at the same time telling us about a product or service.” – Melinda Partin

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67. “Story is the vehicle we use to make sense of our lives in a world that often defies logic.” – Jim Trelease

68. “Drama comes from contrast, showing the difference between ‘what was’ and ‘what is’. The greater the difference, the greater the drama.” – Lou Hoffman

69. “Storytelling is the calculated release of information.” – Alex Garland

70. “Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories or common-sense advice.” – Edward Miller, writing coach

71. “In order to win a man to your cause, you must first reach his heart, the great high road to his reason.” ­– Abraham Lincoln

Peter Guber

73. “Visual storytelling of one kind or another has been around since cavemen were drawing on the walls.” – Frank Darabont

74. “Listening is the secret to discover great stories.” Fyrefly London

75. “Science is not opposed to storytelling. Science is a genre of storytelling. Stories of the real world, inspired by observations thereof.” – Sean Carroll

76. “You can’t be a good storyteller without a good story, yet how something is communicated is often as important as that which is being communicated.” David Paull, founder and CEO, Dialsmith

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78. “I am a story teller. If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon.” – Phillip Pullman

79. “If you don’t’ like what is being said, then change the conversation.” Don Draper, senior partner, Sterling Cooper & Partners

80. “The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.” – Ben Okri

81. “The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.” – William H. Gass

82. “I’m a storyteller. I love to tell stories about brands. I love to tell stories, period. I like painting pictures through the words, and that’s what I do.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

83. “Stories are powerful. They are the emotional glue that connects the storyteller with his audience and, more importantly, the audience with the idea the storyteller is trying to convey.” – Jon Thomas

84. “Brands are built around stories. And stories of identity – who we are, where we’ve come from – are the most effective stories of all. This storytelling is a powerful way to bring brands to life.” – Bill Dauphinais, Pricewaterhousecoopers LLP

85. “For me, the drive is storytelling. To be a part of an art that tells a story and to be a catalyst, a color in that, is very exciting.” – Alden Ehrenreich

86. “One thing hasn’t changed much in thousands of years…there’s still not better way to stir emotions that a good story.” – Boxer Creative, UK


88. “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin

89. “You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything.” – Beth Comstock, vice chair of Business Innovation, GE

90. “The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” – Steve Jobs

91. “Part of telling a new story has to be telling it in new ways.” – Josh Stearns

92. “Stories tell us of what we already knew and forgot, and remind us of what we haven’t yet imagined.” – Anne L. Watson

93. “A great lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting – only the deeply personal and familiar.” – John Steinbeck

94. “I’m a storyteller – that’s the chief function of a director. And they’re moving pictures, let’s make ‘em move!” – Howard Hawks

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96. “If a nation loses its storyteller, it loses its childhood.” – Peter Handke

97. “Our narratives transcend fact, for they are formed from the delicious emotional nuances of sensation: sound, smell, moods, sensuality, taste, color, shadow, texture, rhythm, cadence, tears, laughter, warmth, and coolness all experienced here, at a place on this earth.” – Robert Archibald

98. “Facts, opinions, and value statements push people apart, stories bring people together.” – Chuck Matthei

Brene Brown

100. “Stories create community, enable us to see through the eyes of other people, and open us to the claims of others.” – Peter Forbes

101. “Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives-the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change – truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” – Salmon Rushdie

102. “Leaders lead by telling stories that give others permission to lead, not follow.” – Michael Margolis

Where does that leave us? Well, who can say it better than the greatest storyteller of all times…


Storytellers We Are Just Getting Started 

Photo credit: Travel photographer Moyan Brenn

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author