Every famous story has a moment where tension reaches a peak.
Hansel and Gratel getting lost in the forest.
Mufasa’s murder in the Lion King.
Great epics are merely a string of such moments – Kaikeyi banishing Rama to the forest, The abduction of Sita by Ravana, the great war between the armies of Lanka and the monkeys, and so on.
We tell a story by building tension and by relieving it. This principle lies at the foundation of every form of communication. A musical symphony builds up to a crescendo and resolves it. A movie builds up to a climax and then resolves it. Even a good speech or presentation rivets the listener by building and breaking tension.
We communicate, teach, instruct and inspire by telling ourselves stories. Before you tell your next one, ask yourself how you are building tension.