Studying outstanding speakers drives one point home — they are great storytellers! Fine speakers know that stories have deep resonance across diverse audiences. They establish empathy with listeners instantaneously. There’s subliminal power in a tale — stories appeal both to our rational minds and our emotional selves. Their messages and morals are powerful means to propel focus in a talk.
All stories start in a business-as-usual (BAU) situation where there’s suddenly a crisis with adverse consequences. Thereafter, a series of struggles drive the narrative to a conclusion. A protagonist undergoes transformation and emerges with deeper understanding about himself, his situation and his relationship with humanity.
There are two genres of stories in the world — the tragic and the comic. When the crisis finds happy resolution, it is a comedy. When the outcome is disastrous, the story is a tragedy. In both kinds, results are shaped by protagonists. Hence, any story’s powerful message is — control over a situation is largely in our own hands.
Great speakers know instinctively how to use stories to make their point. But this can also be learnt through the following steps:
Engage with diverse tales: From anecdotes to epics, biographies to fables, every kind of story can help you highlight your particular message.
Seek stories from daily life: Recount organisational folklore, neighbourhood tales or stories from personal experiences to provoke, persuade and motivate.
Know your audience: Research your listeners fully and present stories that nurture their aspirations and sentiments. Steer clear of disturbing or controversial tales.
Emote, but don’t get emotional: Stay focused on the moral, not the drama, of the story.
Finally, don’t repeat stories: If you’re bored with a story, no matter how remarkable it is, think of a brand new tale.
You’ll keep your audience spell-bound.