Welcome to Day 5. In the last lesson, the emphasis was how to care for your audience. In this lesson, let’s look at a great way to connect with them: through stories.
Good leaders are also great storytellers—they know adding stories is a wonderful way to enhance communication.
People love stories no matter what age. I’m sure you remember from your childhood when you were told stories that captivated you.
A story can be defined as a narrative, either true or fictitious, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the listener. A good story should evoke an emotional response that will connect with the audience.
Making Good Stories
Here’s how you can create a good story for your speech.
Establish an attention-grabbing opening. How will you get your audience’s attention right from the get-go? With an attention-grabbing opening, of course! Arouse their curiosity! Tell a shocking statistic, make a bold statement, or ask an interesting question. Your aim here is to get the audience to ask, “What’s next?”
Establish the situation quickly. You will lose your audience if you take a while to get to your point. Establish the situation within the first couple of minutes. Your challenge is to grab the audience’s attention and keep it there.
Bring emotion into your story. The story must be narrated with the appropriate emotion and drama. Voice modulation with the right pitch and pauses is the key to great storytelling. The effective use of pauses can make your audience hang on to every word with anticipation and excitement.
Be creative, build pictures. Telling the right story to the right audience at the right moment is vital. Plan your presentation and design the story creatively to drive home the message. A good creative story is vivid—it paints a picture in the audience’s mind and helps your listeners “see” what you’re saying.
Bring it all together. The closing is the key to deliver impact and the opportunity to ensure that the audience is clear about the message of the story.
What to Consider for Stories
Consider these as a guide for including stories in your presentation.
• Keep your stories short—two to three minutes at most. Use your story to quickly clarify or support a point you’re making, then move on.
• Make something happen in the story. It should happen at a specific time and place. Make the characters in your story real.
• Choose a story that you’re comfortable telling. It should be easy to recall, especially if you have experienced it firsthand.
• Personalize your stories. Personal stories (ones told from your own personal experience) are the best kind because audiences love to hear stories firsthand and preferably where you are part of the action.
Start practicing today by relating stories as part of your daily conversations with others.
Tomorrow, we look at the effectiveness of using self-effacing humor to connect.
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