As writer and professor Robert McKee put it, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” As speakers, we should be wielding the power of storytelling in our presentations, because it is undoubtedly one of the best ways to create human connection.
There are so many elements to creating good speech content, and certainly facts including statistics and cited studies are important to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise, and to drive a point home. But solely relying on these techniques to communicate an idea to your audience can be cold, robotic, and dare I say…. Boring!! A story is the pathos that appeals to our human emotion. Stories are interesting, memorable, pull at our heart strings, and most importantly, they make the audience relate.
Tips for a Good Story
So, the big question is, how do you go about adding stories to your presentations? When is the right time? Do I share a personal story, or someone else’s? Here’s a few tips to help you navigate spicing up your speeches with the art of storytelling:
- Start with your audience– If you know your audience then you will know which stories are appropriate to share and which ones might not be.
- Make sure your story fits– Use a story that really connects with your point. Don’t drone on with a story that has nothing to do with your overarching message.
- The best stories are the personal ones– The audience can really connect with you as a presenter when you use a personal story. Your vulnerability allows them to see you as a person and not a distant expert.
- KISS: Keep It Short and Simple-When it comes to storytelling in a presentation, stick to this rule of thumb. Stories that go on for too long, or are too complicated may lose the audience, and that’s the last thing you want.
- Set up your story– Instead of leading with “This reminds me of a really funny story I heard the other day…” create a natural story set up that subtly invites the audience to join you along the path to your story.
- Practice, practice, practice– The more you run it through, the more natural it will become.
There is a reason we call storytelling an art- because it’s not easy. However, when done right, it can be a beautiful addition to your presentation. Make your speech an amazing piece of art that will leave a mark on your audience.