In recent blogs, I discussed the concept of the “information sandwich” and specifically the importance of getting right to the point in your emails and having a good closing for your presentations. In this blog, I’d like to address how to apply the “sandwich” approach to the stories that you tell at work.

In stories that people tell at work, most people forget to provide context and importance before starting the story or after finishing. In other words, they forget to “set the table” for the good stuff that they’re about to serve up in their story.


Here’s a typical start to a story you might hear at work:


“I have a story about that Division Manager. Got a minute? OK, so 2 years ago… (and then the story starts.)”


What’s the problem with the start of that story? Two things: (1) It doesn’t say what the story is going to be about, and (2) it doesn’t tell me why the storyteller thinks I’d be interested in hearing it. This start presupposes that I’ll want to listen to pretty much anything that comes out of the storyteller’s mouth, which is unlikely the case. Here’s a better start to that story:


“I have a story about the way that Division Manager handled pressure coming from the CEO during the merger. I think it might shed some light on what you’re seeing in your interactions with her and maybe help you to work more effectively with her .” 


OK, now I’m motivated to listen. And as that story winds down, I’d advise the storyteller to end with a bottom line recap, maybe something like:


“So, she’s actually a good manager even though she had that friction with the CEO a couple years ago. Anyway, I thought it might help you to hear that story since I know you’re looking at interacting with her quite a bit in the next few months.”



Serve your business audiences some “information sandwiches” that provide them with the clear structure of your messages. Whether you’re communicating with email, presentations, or stories, in business it’s not about keeping people in suspense—quite the opposite. People appreciate structure because it helps them relax and more easily consume the “stuff” in between the bread that you’ve so carefully prepared for them. Bon Appetit!



Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want. If you’re interested in working with Guillermo, sign up for a free exploratory meeting.