I recently gave a mini-workshop for business executives where we discussed using storytelling in business situations.
Along the way a question came up about "starting a story." I had commented that while "Once upon a time..." was a well-used method for starting stories, business stories wouldn't start that way. After using several stories during the workshop, an attendee asked - "so how DO you start your stories?"
The answer came through discussion - just start the story.
I liken it to an old-fashioned juke box - the kind with all the old country 45's spinning in a cartridge. Once the record you selected came up, the mechanics of the machine extracted it, and laid it onto the platter. The needle came down, and the music began.
So as you are meeting with a potential customer or talking with employees or leading a meeting of peers, when you hear a prompt the juke box in your brain begins to spin. When the right story comes up - you lay it on the platter, drop the needle and begin telling the story.
Of cousre all this happens in a few seconds - and you need to have your repertoire of stories well learned and practiced. But that's the essential process.
The same holds true in more traditional storytelling - to a small group of children, to a large group of adults, or to your own family.
The topic is raised - the juke box begins to spin - and a fine, contextually appropriate story is selected, and it begins to play.
At least - that's how it works for me!