“Tell me a story.”
Do you remember saying that to your parents or grandparents when you were a child? Perhaps you’ve heard that plea from your children.
Why do children love to about hear stories? Perhaps we are programmed to listen to stories. Maybe we need stories to appeal to some primal urge. Are we successful as a species because we tell stories? Would we be more successful if we told more stories or more effective stories?
Consider the success of the entertainment industry, which thrives on telling stories. TV, movies and even sports are rooted in telling stories. Have you noticed the exorbitant earnings that stars of storytelling bank? Why? Because we crave stories and we reward our story tellers handsomely. Take note of Oprah, Steven King and James Cameron.
Story telling has been with us since cave men and women huddled around a flickering campfire. It entertained, educated, and excited people eons ago and it enthralls us today.
What might that suggest?
When you tell stories in your presentations you will sell more, persuade more effectively and enjoy greater results from your presentations. You’ll also feel better about speaking because story telling is more comforting than giving a speech.
Most of us would rather tell stories than give a speech. Ask someone to choose between telling a story or giving a speech guess what they will pick. While public speaking gets high rating as a fear, storytelling does not.
Include stories in your presentation because it helps you deliver your message. Follow this simple formula to make stories work for you.
Include these three elements in your story:
- Conflict – The conflict grabs our attention. Create the setting. Make it vivid.
- Resolution – We need closure even if the closure is based on hope.
- Point – Tell a story to help clarify a point.
Tell your personal story because:
- You lived it, so you don’t need to memorize it.
- It’s your story, so no one else is likely to tell it.
- The audience feels privileged when you share a personal experience.
Rehearse and edit the words in your story to include only the details necessary to make your point. Your most difficult task is leaving out some of the details. This can be the most difficult part – leaving out details that you love yet are not necessary to make your point.
Your audience doesn’t need all the details to get the point. The story is for the audience not for you.
The story doesn’t need to be funny. When it’s funny, that’s a bonus.
As a storyteller you are allowed some creative license. It’s best if the story is 100% true. But it is more important that the story be believable. Some true stories are not believable. Don’t waste your time with those unbelievable tales. Sometimes you might alter some small detail to make the story easier to tell or better illustrate your point.
If the story is so painful that you can’t tell it without crying – don’t use it – unless you are speaking at a funeral.
Tell stories to better
- illustrate your point
- be remembered
- be more persuasive
- build rapport
The best public speakers are powerful story tellers. If you want to transform your presentations, add more stories to the mix.