The storytelling techniques that you use as a speaker will make or break your presentation. Great presenters know that stories are the backbone of any speech. This episode reveals a few public speaking storytelling techniques that will help you better engage with your audience, make your presentations easier to deliver, and more interesting for your audience. We also cover a handy TechFind that helps you organize your presentation and remember stories for your presentations.
Public Speaking Storytelling Techniques
Stories are the backbone of all great speeches. In the intro, Doug Staneart, CEO of Fearless Presentations ®, gives the analogy that stories in a presentation are like sugar in dessert. They are the key ingredient that makes the presentation work. Sure, you could make a dessert without sugar, but why? Sure, you can make a presentation without stories, but you audience will be like a family enjoying a sugar-free dessert… The dessert might be okay, but it make leave a bad taste in the mouth.
- What Story Do You Use? Identify What Point You Want to Make. Remember what we covered in Podcast 6: Presentation Bullet Point Design | Avoid Death by PowerPoint. Make full sentences out of your bullet points, and make the bullet points something that you can prove. If you do, just chose stories (or examples) from real life that help you prove that this point is true. This will keep you from adding in irrelevant stories.
- Realize that Your Personal Experiences are Valuable to Your Audience. The only difference between your presentation and any other expert is your personal stories. Don’t discount this important fact. If you have been doing a specific career for a few years, then you are an expert at certain things in that career. Those personal experiences are valuable to your audience, and they will add clarity to the presentation. In Podcast 1, Doug told the story about how he had a challenging presentation while an intern in college. That story is unique to Doug. It also adds clarity to Doug’s message which is, “If I can do this, anyone can do this.” Use your personal experiences to prove your points.
- People Remember Moments, Not Days, Months, or Years. The longer your story, the more likely you will lose the audience. So, you want to choose a specific moment in time. If a project took years to complete, don’t tell about the entire project. Instead, give an example of a specific part of the project that was important to the success. Doug gives an example of when he worked with 3DI for four years coaching their presenters for “Short List” interviews. Instead of telling us about the entire four year project, he told about just one presentation that they made for the University of Texas at Arlington. That one, anecdotal story, gave a good representation of what happened throughout the coaching.
- Play the Movie in Your Head. When speaking from personal experience, just play the movie in your head and explain the details of that movie to your audience. This helps you reduce stage fright, by the way. It also helps you avoid over-practicing.
- Anecdotes Allow You to Reinforce Your Own Experience with that of Another Expert. You can actually tell other people’s stories as anecdotes, but they take a little more practice. Doug gave an example of a story by Frank Bettger in his book How I raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Doug uses Bettger’s story of being fired from a Bush league baseball team for having no enthusiasm and being hired by the St Louis Cardinals within a month solely because he changed his enthusiasm level. Always give credit to your source when you use anecdotes.
Stories are your Ace-in-the-Hole as a speaker. Add at least a single story to every bullet point. We often encourage more, though.
Tech Find: Idea Organizer
So now that you are great at creating and delivering fantastic stories in your presentation, this app is a great way to organize them. The Idea Organizer App is a great way to quickly catalog your ideas and stories when they come to you. Ever had a great idea after laying down to go to bed or while you were at the gym? Well, if you have your phone with you, you can make a quick note of the idea in seconds. The app allows text, photos, and audio recordings, so it is a very convenient way to keep track of stories that you remember. For instance, if you are preparing a presentation, and you remember a great story that will validate one of your bullet points, but you are out of the office, it can be challenging to type up a note on your phone. Just hit the voice recorder and tell the entire story to your phone. Then, you can email the entire note to yourself later. If you need a great photo as a visual, just snap the photo with your phone’s camera, and the photo becomes a part of the note and email as well. I love this app. It is very handy.
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