When did you first tell a story? Chances are, it was Humpty Dumpty’s tale when you started speaking. Since then, you’ve probably never stopped; weaving in stories about everyday life into conversations with your family, neighbors, friends, and colleagues. This means you are a better storyteller than you realize. How about using this natural strength to add depth and interest to your presentations and speeches?
Experts agree that stories capture people’s attention better than facts and figures, which is why business speakers use storytelling for greater impact. When we listen to someone’s successes and failures we identify with them. We automatically seek parallels between their lives and ours, and learn from their stories.
Here’s how you can use storytelling techniques to help your audience understand, remember, and incorporate the essence of your message.
Have a hero
Right from Little Red Riding Hood to Harry Potter to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, your audience needs someone to peg their hopes on. As these characters go through life, overcome challenges, and battle their personal demons, the audience re-lives these stories, applying them to the ups and downs in their own lives. Use strong, well-defined characters to enthrall your audience and take them along to the point you are trying to make.
Include personal storytelling
While it may seem conceited to make yourself the hero of your tale, good storytellers always add themselves to the story, sometimes through a subplot, a related aside, or as a secondary character—a helper, guide, or an observer in the hero’s story. This not only emphasizes authenticity, it helps those who may not connect with the hero’s tale to still find elements that resonate with them.
Pique their curiosity
The real payload in any story is at its end, where your moral, lesson, or call-to-action lies. But how do you keep your audience listening till then? Scientists advice you: feed listeners some information, but not too much. The desire to know more will engage them all the way to the end. For example, after you introduce an endearing character, set him upon a quest filled with unusual challenges. Like in the ‘Ice Age’ or ‘Kungfu Panda’ films. Or your character could face a dilemma that has the audience wonder about the final outcome. ‘The Lady, or the Tiger’ by Frank R. Stockton is the perfect example of this storytelling device.
Millennia of telling stories to each other in caves, around campfires, under the stars, or tucked under blankets, lets us connect immediately with anybody who has an authentic tale to tell. That’s something great business leaders like Richard Branson and motivational coaches like Tony Robbins use to motivate and educate their audiences. It’s time you did it too.