I’m going to kick off the new year with a simple, yet powerful storytelling tip for you.
Storytelling has become a national Buzzword today. Everyone is talking about storytelling. I often have clients call me and say, “I want to tell my story better.” Or, “I need to hone my story for my brand.”
What they’re generally referring to is their company story or their personal brand story: How they came to what they do, why it’s so important to them and why it’s important to you.
The tip you’re going to hear about in this post is more related to the type of stories you incorporate within your day to day presentations. And if done well, also help you become (another request I hear often) more relatable and authentic.
A quick route to becoming relatable and authentic as a communicator is to learn how to incorporate one or two well-crafted examples in anecdotal form or short stories within your presentation.
When you’re considering the type of story to choose within your presentation or talk, keep this in mind:
The more Personal, The more Universal.
A little background...
The way I was introduced to this concept was through my acting teacher. Before I developed my public speaking expertise, I was a professional actor. I moved to NYC out of college to pursue an acting career.
Early in my career, I was fortunate to study with a gifted and powerful acting teacher, Larry Moss. As hopeful young actors we spent hours (days) in his class learning and honing our craft.
Now he’s a distinguished, world renowned acting coach to award winning actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Helen Hunt, Hilary Swank and so many others. I now realize how lucky I was to be introduced to his methods early on. That experience was a great influence on me as an actor and later on as a Professional Speaker and Public Speaking Coach.
One caveat to keep in mind is that acting is different in many ways from speaking. The entire play, script, opera or whatever form, is a story in and of itself. The actor must draw upon their own experiences and emotions in order to make the playwright’s words resonate and become believable for the audience.
The principal of The more Personal, The more Universal as it applies to actors means the more you learn to draw upon your private emotional life, the more real it is for the audience. And the audience will not know what the actor is accessing to make it real. It takes a life time of learning and exploring.
I’m going to share this same basic tenet with you that we learned and show you how you can apply it to your day to day business stories.
In a business or professional presentation, while you certainly want it to have an emotional impact, there’s no need to dredge up deep seated emotions. It can come across as overly dramatic and perhaps even inappropriate. You want to make sure you understand how to control the emotion.
However, the principal applies beautifully to how you choose your stories. Here are few guidelines to help you unearth your universal stories:
1. What’s Your Point?
First and foremost, your story or example has to support a point you’re making. In other words, your anecdote is not gratuitous. You want to make a point, support it with a relevant example that supports the idea you’re putting forth and then repeat the point.
2. What does this remind me of?
You want the story you choose to reflect the point you’re making so every time your listeners find themselves in a particular situation, they recall the story. And what they’re really thinking about is the point you made.
3. Start with stories that happened to you.
People tell me, “But I don’t have interesting stories! The speakers I see tell such powerful stories... I can’t do that!” Your stories are everywhere. Most professional speakers train continuously to improve this aspect of their craft. You can take a page from the speakers’ play book once you understand where to find, craft and hone them.
If you’re sharing a relevant example and relaying an incident that happened to you; you were there, what you heard, what you saw, what you did - it will be memorable. Another plus is that it’s hard for someone else to replicate because it’s your story.
I once attended a public speaking event where the speaker guided us to go through our lives in five year increments and make a list of all of the challenges we encountered as well as the successes. When that part of the exercise was completed, we made a list of the lessons learned in each of the most compelling scenarios.
Once you’ve mined for stories that happened to you, look for other people in your life who influenced you. We all have coaches, teachers, family members or friends who taught us values that influenced us and we carry with us today. Look for those as well.
4. Small Stories have a Big Impact.
Your stories don’t have to be big life changing experiences to make a point. You don’t have to have climbed Mount Everest or had a near death experience. The smaller moments in your life, the more personal incidents have equal power.
Look for opportunities where you can find material that simplifies or clarifies a complex work idea you’re sharing and relate it to the everyday experiences of your listeners.
5. Edit. Edit. Edit.
Finally, craft and fine tune your story to keep your audience engaged. It’s critical to keep your stories lean and to the point. It requires discipline (and a bit of courage!) to eliminate excess and unnecessary verbiage that may be fun or interesting to you but doesn’t keep the story on track for your listeners.
Here’s to a successful public speaking experience in the New Year and searching for your Personal stories with Universal appeal.
To learn more about how you can work with Ivy to create a customized Public Speaking program for your company or work privately through the ‘Join The Ivy League’ coaching program, contact us here for a complimentary consultation today.