However over my years of experience working with professionals in many different industries, I have come to a very important conclusion: stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a speaker’s arsenal.
Therefore, we decided to incorporate a few compelling stories into the presentation. The challenge, nonetheless, was how do you find stories that will illustrate the message and keep the agents engaged at the same time?
When you tell a story, you will awaken and engage up to seven areas of your audience members’ brains, as opposed to the two areas that you will activate when you tell only facts and stats. According to a Harvard study, sharing stories allows speakers to project warmth and connect with the audience. Projecting competence and credibility alone are not sufficient for most leaders to succeed.
Effective storytelling is not always the easiest thing to do. How do you find stories to tell during your presentations that will engage your audience and project warmth?
Below you will find three techniques to break through writer’s blocks and discover stories that will enhance your message.
1) Tell Personal Stories
The best storytellers explore their own memories and life experiences to illustrate their big idea. What events in your life make you believe in the points you are trying to share? Find a transformative experience from your past that relates to the overall message of your presentation topic or a specific idea in your speech.
Recall a moment in which your own failures led to success in your career, or a lesson that a parent or mentor imparted. These recollections are the emotional entry points to a story. You may feel reluctant to share personal details at work, but anecdotes that exemplify struggle and vulnerability are what make speakers appear authentic and humble.
2) Highlight the Benefits with a Story
You may feel that dictating a laundry list of the benefits of your products and services is the best way to win over your audience. In your mind, how can they possibly resist all the value that your products or services have to offer? By the time you are finished, you expect them to literally jump out of their seats with excitement!
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Because when you outline these benefits as a list, you are only appealing to their rational brain, not their emotional brain.
Below is a wonderful example of how you can demonstrate the benefits of your products and services with an emotion-evoking story.
One U.S. government official told a melodramatic story about a just-in-time delivery of multiple vendors at his daughter’s wedding. But to what end? He linked it to his real message, which was to get new remote communication technology adopted in his organization.
The story he told was that many of his relatives were unable to travel to the wedding, so he used a commercial version of a technology to push the wedding pictures quickly to the remote family members. This helped everyone feel more included at the event. He argued that adopting the enterprise version of this technology at the agency will similarly include distant employees and the development of important agency initiatives. The senior executives not only understood this with their minds, but felt it with their hearts. They were able to relate to the story of a father doing his best to serve his family to the agency doing its best to serve their employees.
3) Share Customer Experiences
Think of customer experiences that convey your message. Ask these customers for permission to share their story. Social proof is a powerful thing. It moves people to adopt your message and take action.
The greatest stories are a reflection of you and the message you want to share with the world. There is no magic blueprint for storytelling because stories come in a beautiful myriad of styles. However, the techniques above can guide you through the process of telling a story that is uniquely yours, but also meaningful to the people who will be experiencing the journey through your words.
Give it a try!
And if you are still unable to break through that writer’s block, I am only an email away. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org