5 Places you can use Story to Grow your Business (besides public speaking)

This is a blog about public speaking … and yet …

Right now, under the banner of a business called Pivotal Public Speaking, I am teaching small business owners about story – story for speakers? … not altogether …

If you are speaking to grow your business, then story is vital. It gives you credibility. It creates a deep engagement with your audience of potential clients. Most powerfully, though, it allows you to take a potential client into your business with you so that they feel, and hear, just what it is like to work with you, just what exactly it is that you do for them.

That is “if you are speaking …”

The stories that you choose and tell, about your business, though, can then be used and re-used elsewhere with exactly the same power.

1. You can use them on the “About” page of your website/blog/web presence. They give that same level of engagement, credibility and awareness, that will have your web visitors clicking through to find out more.

2. You can use them on your sales pages. Let your prospective buyers know that you understand their pain and problems. Let them see your product in action. This is word of mouth marketing – online!

3. You can use them in conversations. You connect at a networking event. What more natural and yet powerful way of deepening that connection is there, than story? People arrive at your product display. Conversation, and story, will give them the human face of your business, your product, your service. And people do tend to buy people first. We know that, though often instictively.

4. You can use your story/stories in your social media marketing. On the surface this means sharing stories about your business – regularly. Facebook loves stories. Distill them down for twitter into tiny conversational pieces. Give them “corporate” style, if you need to, for LinkedIn. Under the surface, though, your brand story drives all that you do in social media. Confine all that you do, say and share to that defined specific story and you establish a strong brand presence.

5. Finally, you can use your stories when you are teaching. Many speaking engagements revolve around teaching about something in your business. Many businesses revolve around teaching something. Here the power of story is perfect for you because it creates engagement, it helps overcome objections to new ideas and it is a vital tool in the integration of brain function so necessary to successful learning.

So in “teaching” story, I am excited to be giving people far more than just a speaking tool, though it is certainly that.

If you are interested in learning more about story, either simply as a speaking tool, or as a tool to grow your business, why don’t you join me?

You will learn

How to use stories for different outcomes.

How to draw an audience into your world or your business using story.

4 of the basic types of business story and where to find the ones in your business/life that will be more effective when you speak.

Story structure – the elements and processes of story and how to apply them and which ones work best in different situations.

How to integrate story into your speaking – how it fits into the structure of your presentation, how to use your voice, stage and stage presence to greatest effect and how to remember it.

Integrated into the program is a thread of how you use story to propel your personal growth, the growth of your business and your vision for the future/blockquote>

This is small group workshop format. In all of my workshops I find people learn much from each other, as they are learning from me, and I intend to maintain that.


[Quick public speaking tip]… and the moral of the story is ….

storytelling (1)We are wired for story.

For hundreds of years, we passed on our culture, our values and the understandings necessary for survival, verbally, using story.

Our stories had a moral. All of them. There were lessons to be learned and we knew they were valuable.

We are wired to look for the moral, the point of the story.

What an opportunity to tell a story and have your audience expecting the point you are going to make!

What a shame then, if we tell a story and don’t make a point. What a waste.

And what a let-down for the audience.

The moral is – “Don’t waste your stories”.

Why storytelling is such a powerful tool for speakers

The emotionally charged story recounted at the beginning Dr. Paul Zak’s film—of a terminally ill two-year-old named Ben and his father—offers a simple yet remarkable case study in how the human brain responds to effective storytelling.

As part of his study, Dr. Zak, a founding pioneer in the emerging field of neuroeconomics, closely monitored the neural activity of hundreds of people who viewed Ben’s story.

What he discovered is that even the simplest narrative, if it is highly engaging and follows the classic dramatic arc outlined by the German playwright Gustav Freytag, can evoke powerful empathic responses associated with specific neurochemicals, namely cortisol and oxytocin. Those brain responses, in turn, can translate readily into concrete action—in the case of Dr. Zak’s study subjects, generous donations to charity and even monetary gifts to fellow participants.

By contrast, stories that fail to follow the dramatic arc of rising action/climax/denouement—no matter how outwardly happy or pleasant those stories may be—elicit little if any emotional or chemical response, and correspond to a similar absence of action. Dr. Zak’s conclusions hold profound implications for the role of storytelling in a vast range of professional and public milieus.

Public Speaking quote – adding soul to your data

Maybe stories are just data with a soul.

~ Brené Brown

Are you using stories to make your data more attractive and effective?

Article – Engage your audience with stories

As a speaker, when you introduce a story, you have instant engagement. People stop to listen to stories. People are drawn to stories and take the time to tell their own. This works in conversation … and it will do the same in your speeches. Mention a story and people’s attention snaps on and they are immediately engaged.

Studies have shown that when people listen to stories, their heartbeat slows, their eyes glaze and the brain releases chemicals that make them relax. Their brains switch from a factual processing of information to the storytelling mode. This is sometimes called the Listening Trance or the Storytelling Trance. It activates different centres of the brain and the result is to reduce disagreement, and to activate the search for the moral of the story – turning on focused engagement.
This is the response that stories evoke, and why the brain is so predisposed to record, so easily, the stories it hears and the points the storyteller associates with them. And it is what makes stories such a powerful tool in engaging your audience.

Stories are also a great way to change the direction and pace of the speech. They give the audience time to relax, as people do when listening to stories, and to absorb the points that have just been made. At the same time you can be creating another point, or reinforcing points you made earlier.

People participate in our stories. They take ownership of the story. Stories that are well crafted let the audience anticipate where you are going. Giving just enough information about the characters and the setting also allow your audience to fill in the details for themselves, thus creating their own version of the story and continuing that participation …. and engagement.

And finally, if we choose them well, our stories can elicit their own stories from our audience members. Look for examples and points that your audience also will have a story about. Your story will elicit their own stories- a further engagement level.


© Bronwyn Ritchie … If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie helps speakers to be confident and effective. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

Build audience trust before you start your story

The storytelling trance is a vital part of the success of storytelling and for an audience to be led into the story they need to trust the storyteller. They need to know that the story will be worth listening to – that it will actually lead them in to be a part of a scene and a series of actions, a place where they would want to be …. and that it will provide a story arc that they can use.

There are questions an audience will ask – of themselves – and through that process, of you, before they will give you their undivided attention.

What is your why? Are you credible? Are you authentic? Are you trustworthy?

Do you have the skills to tell a story that your audience will want to listen to? Do you have the knowledge or “smarts” to be able to create a useful takeaway from this story? Is the story going to be worth listening to? Is your personality capable of telling a story that enthrals, entertains and teaches? Can you be trusted to tell a story without trickery, without wanting to manipulate your audience into behaviour they will not want? Is this story worth more than the other options available to them for the time they are giving you?

So who are you as a storyteller? What does your audience know of you before you begin? How will you present yourself as someone they can trust and relate to?

Obviously you are going to have to research your audience.

What is their language? What do they want? What do they need? What do they fear? Who are they? How much expertise do they already have in your subject area? What are their objections to the points you want to make, to the outcome you want from your presentation? What do they find funny? What do they do, or think about or indulge in for excitement and thrills? What is their why?

Then speak their language. Show that you understand their way of thinking, that you understand their challenges. Show them your why and your credibility and your trustworthiness.

Introduce the story. Set the scene. Tease with your introduction. Let them know that it is relevant to the progress of your presentation and the point you are making. Reassure them that what is to follow is worth their time and their attention. Then you can take them with you into the story.

© Bronwyn Ritchie … If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie helps speakers to be confident and effective. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

Build your brand with stories

Stories are a subtly powerful way to support your speaking outcomes. You can use them to support the points you want to make, but you can also use them to position yourself in the eyes of your audience. When you speak you need to be seen as an expert, though an approachable expert, and the audience needs to understand you and your why. They need to know why they should listen to you and why they should do what you expect form them at the conclusion of your speech. You also have an opportunity to establish yourself and your brand in their memories, through the power of storytelling.

Here are 4 specific ways you can use storytelling to build your brand.

1. Identity

Tell stories about yourself. There are several benefits to this. You can identify yourself as someone your audience can relate to – someone with credibility. You can also show that you are not perfect – reveal a flaw (though not a serious one!!) or a mistake you have made. This makes you seem human, and by revealing vulnerability, you build trust. You can use self-effacing humour here, and if it is the sort of mistake that your audience has made, then they can relate to you, and your story will be the stronger for it. This same story or another one, should progress to show your authority in your subject, establish you as the expert or the source of expertise your audience needs to solve their problems.

2. Why

Use a story to reveal your why – why it is you are in business. This, too, builds trust and shows that you do not have a hidden agenda – are authentic – and makes you appear less “salesy”. People have more empathy with you once they know your why, particularly if it is similar to their own.

3. Understanding
In a business speech, particularly, but in any speech, you are working to break down resistance to your persuasion. If you can tell a story that shows you recognise your audience’s thoughts – their objections – you can show you respect them – understand and respect them and their views. You will, of course, show that those objections are not applicable to this situation, but you will have communicated your respect and therefore established more trust.

4. Authenticity
Find stories about yourself and about your business – true stories. Everyone has a story – from the past, from the present and about the future. And so do businesses – stories about their beginnings, their present and their futures. Spend time finding the ones you can use to establish your brand. Because you have chosen true stories, their authenticity will not be compromised. Beyond that, create stories, do things that are story-worthy – or tell stories about other businesses that indicate the values you hold in your own.

Stories position you as someone the audience can relate to on their own level. Stories position you as someone to whom they can go to solve their problems. Stories position you as someone they can trust. And they do this very subtly but very powerfully. What are your brand stories – personal or business?

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

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