The 5 Slide Rule™ (of thumb) for planning and over-prepping for storytelling success. This is a people, process, and tools article to help anyone who needs another way to get ready potentially.

What this ‘rule’ is not

  1. It will not be 5 slides; that is a guideline based on my experience presenting, pitching, and suffering the insufferable. Folks of all kinds use way too many slides per hour of presentation.
  2. There is no formula, recipe, or IKEA directions for improving your decks or stories. Every storytelling moment is different, and this is what I love most.
  3. This is my experience; yours may vary. This is not for everyone. You likely have access to loads of techniques, tools, and schooling by many other excellent story-makers. #keepstorymaking
  4. It is not one thing; it is many things, and you can take some, leave some, and make your best story.
  5. It is not new or unique; this is my evolving take on a simple, memorable rubric. The way of working may be unique, which evolves with a mix of you, content, narrative engineering, and, my favorite, over-prepping.

What the 5 Slide Rule is:

  1. A mechanism to reduce, remove, and refine thinking around how to use an hour of someone’s time. (1 Hour = ~47min of materials max more on this later)
  2. It’s a mindset about the core content to be conveyed.
  3. A filter for your materials that can be shared as a goal for materials and story only to include what is essential.
  4. A means to an end that doesn’t make a story meaningless and not memorable and respects the attention your audience may give you.
  5. The process assumes that some of my other posts are part of the 5 Slide Rule approach. If you haven’t checked out some of the other posts on storytelling and storymaking, head to for more posts on how to craft better stories.
The 5 Slide Rule™ image of the thumbnail view

Beginnings Middles and Ends.

When story-making, folks often struggle with’ setting the stage’ or describing ‘how we got here.’ They often address the beginnings of something that started in the middle or the end. Aftermath storytelling is generally how many folks present and tell stories. I generally and specifically focus on the BMEs of a story to be certain prep-wise that I covered off on structure and can checklist this element of the story making.

beginnings middles and ends
Beginnings, middles, and ends support composite thinking and are important to understand when telling a story.

Some storytelling is in medias res, that is, it starts in the middle of things and then, for plot interest, unpacks all the plot lines with flashbacks and character development. In many ways, this is how many narratives are engineered to drop an audience into the compelling event and then explain all the threads with twists and turns. That is valid and useful for different types of story-making.

When a child runs into the house with a bloody lip and a skinned knee, a parent often can reconstruct the events that led to the child’s presentation with these injuries (e.g., getting in a fight, falling off a bike, etc). This is an ‘ends’ event. The outcome is in front of you with no ‘middle’ and no ‘beginning,’ hence the ‘What happened?’ a parent asks while getting the first aid kit.

The key element of this aspect of the 5 Slide Rule™ is the intentionality you approach using BMEs to properly frame or reframe the narrative to support your story and the desired outcome.

Start anywhere, and know that you need well-laid-out story parts to thread elements together to hit the BMEs or not. Cliff hangers are where you leave out the ending for various reasons contributing to the conversion event you are after.

Story Arcs & the Arc of Uncertainty

In the next post, I will attempt to outline and explain the arc of uncertainty and the various story arcs you can use to create the most compelling and entertaining narrative.

If you made it down here, thanks for reading. #keepmoving