Skip to main content

Add Suspense to Your Story with “Near-Impossible Goals”

By February 5, 2018November 20th, 2023No Comments
three executives, two women, one man with facial expressions of suspense

Want a good way of creating drama and adding suspense to your stories? Set near-impossible goals.

As an example, imagine you are in the movie theater watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones movie. The music tempo increases, the rock wall falls away, and Indiana has just seconds to jump. The look of fear and doubt covers his face. You and everyone else in the theatre are watching with rapt attention. Indy’s goal? To escape? To you, it would seem impossible, and all hope is lost? Right? (tongue-in-cheek)

You too can heighten the emotional aspect of your story similar to great movies, great television shows, and great books. How? By adding organization limit goals or personal limit goals. Here are two some examples to include in your stories.


– My boss gave me an ultimatum. When the calendar shows May 31, software development must stop. Get it done, do it right, and do it within a ridiculously meager budget.
– If it weren’t done right, we would lose one of our biggest clients and most importantly, our jobs. I could feel the sweat trickling down my back.


– Midway into my week-long hike up the mountain, I realized I was in over my head. The expected moderate difficulty hike to the top was everything OTHER than expected. I was not prepared for the drop in temperature. My gear was inadequate. I was dehydrated, I was hungry, and I was afraid.
– Mentally, I was giving up. Nothing, and I mean nothing, I could think of was working. I had not slept for two days. I did not know what to do.

Next time you want to add suspense, add personal and organization limits to increase impact and increase story message retention.

Photography Source:  PhotoObjects
#tip #storytelling #publicspeaking #communication #chiefstoryteller

Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.