Use Storytelling in Public Speaking
Date: July 19, 2015
We all love a good story. We enjoy getting engrossed in fact or fiction as long as the story is compelling and engaging.
It used to be that stories were passed down from generation to generation through basic images on cave walls, then by words and storytelling. The mediums evolved to allow stories to be told through books, comics and other paper material. Then came TV, film and digital communication to enhance the art of storytelling.
But lets go back to basics. As public speakers the art of storytelling comes back to verbal communication. Even though there are all these other methods, hearing a person tell a story can be one of the most enjoyable.
I remember my grandpa, sitting me on his knee as a child and telling me stories. His first action in a story wasn’t even verbal. All he had to do was sit in his old armchair, look at me in a certain way and pat his knee. I knew immediately that a story was about to be told. Once perched on his knee he would begin by asking if I wanted to choose a story he had told me before or if I wanted to hear a brand new one. Immediately he had me hooked.
Oops do you see what I just did there? I told a little story. I am sure that as you read the paragraph above you had an image of my grandpa, his chair, and a young boy excitedly sitting on his knee. The thing about verbal storytelling without any images is that your own imagination can decide on certain parts of the story while the fundamentals of the older man, the armchair and the young boy are the same for everyone. However each person can decide on their own imaginative interpretation of the room surroundings, how young the boy was, how old the grandpa was and the type of chair.
You see storytelling while containing facts also leaves a whole lot of room for imagination.
Paint a picture when telling your story
When you story tell as part of your talk or presentation, don’t give too much detail. Leave the audience with room to fill in the blanks. In this way they will ‘own’ the story and it will be easier for them to recal long after they have heard it. Art lovers can often spend quite some time looking at a painting or a sculpture. In most cases the artist or sculptor, no matter how detailed the piece of art is, has left room for the imagination of the observer. In this way the observer of the work is part of the story and remembers piece for longer.
Listening to a story creates feeling
When you listen to a good story being told it leaves you with more than just knowledge or understanding, it leaves you with a feeling. It is this feeling that helps you remember the story which in turn helps you remember the point the speaker was trying to get over to you. Feelings are easier to remember than facts. When you are delivering a talk as a public speaker, create a feeling that your audience can take away with them.
Have a point to the story
It is important as part of a speakers presentation that there is a point to the story. Although it may be nice for an audience to hear any story, a story with a point has much more impact.
Plan your story so that it emphasises a point you are making in your overall presentation. By the way it doesn’t really matter if the story you are telling it true or not, as long as you don’t lie about it being true (if you understand what I mean). You have no idea if my grandpa story above is true or not (it is by the way), but none-the-less you heard my story and set in place some basic imagery for it in your mind.
Believe in your story
It may be the hundredth time you have told the story as part of your presentation but tell it as if it was the first. Remember it will be the first time your audience has heard it. Tell it with anticipation and enthusiasm.
Telling a story to emphasise your point within a presentation is a wonderful tool in your public speaking toolbox