The truly successful speaker understands the power of story. Most speeches or presentations overflow with facts, figures and information. We’re bombarded with data.
But before your audience can believe in your facts, they need to believe in you. Telling stories is a good way of helping your audience get to know you – which is the first step towards believing you.
Stories don’t have to be long. Just make sure the anecdote or story is simple, clear and relevant. (And won’t alienate any group within your audience). Stories:
• are a good way of engaging the audience;
• let the audience know you can be trusted;
• give structure to information and make data memorable;
• help keep the audience constantly engaged;
• are a wonderful teaching tool;
• touch us in a way facts don’t.
Parkinson’s Disease is a fact. Actor Michael J. Fox’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease is a story that drives medical research, agitates for political change, and has people reaching into wallets and purses to finance the search for a cure.
Try to tell a story at least every 5 minutes in your speech or presentation.
Even accountants have stories
I worked with one group who said: “We are accountants. We don’t have stories.” Believe me, even accountants have stories. Anyone who achieves a personal or professional goal, but has to overcome difficulties to do it, has a story. Because at the heart of story is a character confronting difficulties to achieve something worthwhile.
Put a human face on your data. Convert your facts and figures into a story people will remember and your audience will hang on to every word you say.
Facts tell – but stories sell.
Neil Everton is a media skills trainer and presentation skills coach with Podium Media & Communications Coaching