What’s Your Story?
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”– Robert McKee, author, lecturer and story consultant who is known for his “Story Seminar,” which he developed when he was a professor at the University of Southern California
What is your most pleasant memory from your childhood? Chances are your most pleasant memory is your mother or father telling you stories of princesses, knights, and other tales of wonderment. You have not lost this yearning for a good story.
In his book, The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t, author Carmine Gallo tells us about the bushmen of the Kalahari desert.
During the day, the bushmen converse about hunting and gathering. Only 6% of their conversations are stories.
But when the day is done and night comes, around the campfire, the percentage of conversation telling stories among the bushmen is 81%. Why is this?
Stories appeal to emotions. Before you can convince anyone of an idea, they need to accept it emotionally. Stories provide that emotional connection with your audience.
Stories convince more people at a deeper level of your idea than just stating facts.
Below are three vital characteristics of great stories:
Stories should be relevant to the audience’s interests, needs, and experiences and your topic.
They should resonate with your audience personally and emotionally, connecting them to your narrative.
When a story is relevant, it captures the listeners’ attention and keeps them engaged.
Stories where the storyteller is part of it are powerful. They show authenticity, which every audience craves.
Using a relevant story at the beginning and end of your presentation is especially powerful and immediately gets your audience’s attention in your opening and leaves them with a satisfying feeling in your closing.
Remember, though, as powerful as relevant stories are, your main message is the most crucial thing in your presentation.
Keep your story to one to two minutes. Your story loses impact the longer it goes.
So, keeping your story relevant is one of the vital characteristics of storytelling.
Another is clarity.
A clear and well-structured story is crucial for effective communication. It should have a coherent beginning, middle, and end.
Avoid unnecessary tangents and keep the plot focused. Clearly convey the main message or takeaway you want the audience to remember.
A well-organized story helps the audience follow along easily and understand the intended meaning.
Rid your stories of unnecessary detail. If you are a detailed person like me, you have to be extra vigilant to ensure whatever you say in your story is absolutely necessary to the story. “Throw overboard” all details that aren’t.
Keep the story simple. Make the point of your story and how it relates not only to your presentation but also to the point you are making when you start the story extremely clear to your audience.
Keeping your story relevant and clear are two vital characteristics of storytelling.
Authenticity is the last vital statistic we will talk about in this article.
Authenticity adds credibility and genuineness to your storytelling.
Share personal experiences or use real-life examples to make the story more relatable and believable. Avoid exaggeration or fabrication, as it may lead to a loss of trust from your audience.
Authentic stories create an emotional connection and leave a lasting impression.
Who do you trust in your life? I bet you trust the people you deem authentic.
Some speakers believe they have to put on an act when they speak. They think they must“` act like the speaker their audience wants to hear. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You will never be more authentic than when you are yourself. An added benefit of being authentic in your presentations: you will have the most fun, and so will your audience.
Remember that while these three elements are essential, a great speaker employs various storytelling techniques, such as using vivid imagery, incorporating humor, and understanding the pacing and tone appropriate for the audience and the message. Practice and feedback can help refine your storytelling skills over time.
So, keeping your story relevant, clear, and authentic are three vital storytelling characteristics.
From now on, tell relevant, clear, and authentic stories in your presentations. Your audience and you will be grateful!
Call to Action
Keep your presentation stories relevant and preferably personal
Keep your presentation stories clear so there is no doubt in your audience’s mind about the point of your story
Keep your presentation stories authentic to build trust with your audience – audiences love an authentic story.
“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”– Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals by improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Reach Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”