Using a story is a highly effective way to get your point across. A great story is memorable and easy to understand, and can engage and draw in your audience far more readily than a speech or presentation can.
But the thought of having to tell a story strikes fear into the hearts of many otherwise confident public speakers.
The good news is that effective storytelling is not as difficult as it might seem. Being prepared is the key. Once you understand what makes a good story, and how to deliver it, you can have your audience enthralled at your next presentation or meeting.
Try these tips to help increase your storytelling effectiveness, and use narrative to your advantage in conveying your business message:
- Before you start, make sure you are clear in your own mind as to exactly what the point is that you want to get across. Sticking to the essence of your message can help avoid overly long, rambling monologues that have the potential to send your audience to sleep.
- Don’t make it too unbelievable. Your story needs to be something your audience can identify with, so make sure it is not too far-fetched. Often the most effective stories draw on basic experiences that everyone has gone through, or can relate to. If your story is obviously made up, your audience may distrust it, and as a result, you. Trawl your own experience to make your story believable, so it resonates with your audience.
- Connect with your audience on an emotional level. The most memorable stories are ones that make us feel something, and for your story to stick in people’s minds, it needs to evoke an emotion. Make your audience laugh, shock them or give them a wash of nostalgia, and they will likely remember, and possibly even retell, your story in the future.
- Practice your story before you tell it. Although the best stories often seem like they have been told spontaneously, chances are the storyteller has had a bit of practice. Standing in front of a mirror can help you avoid any nervous body language, and deciding ahead of time how you will start the story, conclude it and make your point can cut out nervous waffle, or off track rambling, which may well detract from the message.
- Change stories regularly. Tell the same story or use the same analogy too frequently, and your response will probably be yawning and eye rolling rather than interest and anticipation. After a few retellings, even the best story is probably ready for retirement and it will be time to find a new one.
Storytelling, like many other things in life, is a learned skill. With a bit of practice, you can become a highly effective storyteller. Learn the basics of telling memorable stories and your professional reputation could be enhanced, your staff motivated and your clients interested and engaged. Why not give it a try and see what happens?