Everybody Loves a Good Story
“A compelling story beats a mountain of facts every time. Stories don’t have to be amazing, incredible tales – often family mishaps and personal insights are very moving.” – Dorothy Leeds from her book, “Power Speak”
I hope you and yours had a peaceful and Happy Thanksgiving this past Thursday. I bet there were plenty of stories “flying” around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Did you tell any stories. Are you a storyteller?
If you told your wife about your day at work, you are a storyteller.
If you reminisced to your husband about the first bike you received as a child, you are a storyteller.
If you told your co-worker about the guy who cut you off on your way to work, you are a storyteller.
We are all storytellers. Why is storytelling vital to connecting with your audience? We will explore how stories grab the attention of your audience, give your audience “hooks” to remember the main points of your presentation, and, finally, how your stories tap into the emotions of your audience to make your presentations memorable.
Your Stories Grab the Attention of Your Audience
What is the purpose of your presentation opening? The purpose is to “grab” your audience’s attention. One of the best ways to grab their attention is to tell a story in your opening.
Why were the movies “Gone with the Wind,” “The Godfather,” and “Star Wars” such blockbuster successes? They grabbed your attention because the stories they led you through were compelling, enthralling, and riveting. You really did not know what was coming next.
You want the same emotions for your audiences. You want to keep them on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what is to come in your presentation.
The late Paul Harvey was a master storyteller. He was able to mask the name of the subject of his stories with such legerdemain, that after he told you at the end of his story who the story’s subject was, you probably said to yourself, “Of course, that is who it was.”
Paul Harvey used the power of story to lure you in and increase your anticipation as the story unfolded. It was a true gift. Google on the following phrase for an example of Paul Harvey’s story mastery: “The Constitution, Those Who Signed It and at What Cost.” Use Paul Harvey’s technique to get your audience to focus on your presentation.
So, stories grab your audience’s attention. They also give your audience “hooks” so they can remember your main points.
Your Stories Give Your Audience “Hooks” So They Can Remember Your Main Points
If you have ever read any books or articles on memory recall, you know recall is greatly aided by associating a certain thing to your memory. Stories can act as the thing that associates to your main points thus allowing your audience to remember your main points more clearly.
Has anyone ever said to you, “Boy, wait until I tell you this story?” Sure you have. We are surrounded by stories everyday. Whether the stories come from the news media, your colleague in the next cubicle or your wife or husband, they are all stories. Years later you will remember these stories. My point here is your stories help your audience to remember your main points during and long after your presentation.
Make sure your stories are relevant to the part of your presentation you are when you tell the story and evoke the emotions you want the audience to feel. Your audience will remember your main points more if you tell stories supporting the main points.
The “hooks” your stories provide to your audience can be greatly enhanced if they evoke the emotions in your audience you intend.
Your Stories Tap the Emotions of Your Audience
Remember when you were a small child. You couldn’t read yet, but you sure loved the stories your mom or dad told you at bedtime. Why did you like them so much? Because slaying dragons or Thing 1/Thing 2 (refer to “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss to find out what Thing 1/Thing 2 are) or finding out “Where the Wild Things Are” (Maurice Sendak) tugged at your emotions and excited your imagination.
Let me ask you a question. Do you love a story told by a speaker if the story is relevant to the presentation and told with great emotion? Of course you do. School subjects such as math are dry because they are taught without appealing to students’ emotions. Would math be more interesting if you told a story about the mathematician who invented or discovered the concept you are teaching? Of course, it would.
Your audience doesn’t necessarily remember what you say in your presentations, but they will remember how they feel. How they feel is all about their emotions during your presentation. You can tell your stories in such a way that they tap deeply into the emotions of audience members and thus make your presentation more memorable.
So, why is storytelling vital to connecting with your audience? Your stories grab the attention of your audience, give your audience “hooks” to remember the main points of your presentation, and, finally, your stories tap into the emotions of your audience to make your presentation more memorable.
So, are you a storyteller? You are.
Stories have great power in your presentations.
Use your stories to make your presentations the ones everyone is talking about!
“We’re all storytellers. We tell stories to sell our ideas. We tell stories to motivate teams. We tell stories to encourage our children to reach their full potential” – Carmine Gallo from his book, “The Storyteller’s Secrets: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t”