We’ve all heard how important stories are when trying to convey a message to an audience, clients or even during one-on-one conversations. However, the message the story conveys makes it much more important than just entertainment value.
The following questions will help you analyze your story-telling ability.
- Do you like to tell stories?
- Do you use stories when talking with:
- Do you tell stories to:
- get people’s attention?
- make a point?
- just because you like to talk about yourself and the things you have done?
- Do people ever cut you off when you’re telling a story?
- Do you think you have to be the subject of every story?
If you like to tell stories, you’re on your way to using them as an effective tool to support your message. However, if you never tell stories, but wish you had that “talent,” don’t worry, anyone can tell a story.
Stories are everywhere. I know a professional speaker who, before he hit the platform, would read the daily paper. He then started his presentation with a story about a current issue. Sometimes it was funny, other times not so much, but it always got the audiences attention because it was a “timely topic.”
To use your story effectively, it must align with the message or lesson you want to impart. It could be a story from your childhood, your first job, or your vacation. And it doesn’t have to be just about you. It can be a story that a friend told you, or an experience a friend shared with you or even something you read about. The main thing is, the story has a purpose.
A Story With Purpose
Have you ever heard someone tell a story and you’re left wondering, “what was the point?” Sometimes as storytellers, we assume the audience is able to connect what we are saying with the takeaway message. As is often said, it’s dangerous to assume anything.
Instead, draw the conclusion for your audience by directly stating the point you want to make or the lesson you want them to learn. By doing this you are closing the communication circle: a. you a point to make, b. you tell a story that supports your point, and c. you tell them what the point to the story is.
Storytelling can become quite simple with practice. A good way to hone your storytelling skills is to listen to other storytellers. Watch videos on the websites of professional speakers, or go to YouTube.com and watch some of the TEDx Talks.