Powerful Communication Techniques – Tell A Story!

Story Telling as a Comminuication Technique

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23395536Many years ago I listened to a great speaker who completely captured my attention with his presentation. As I looked around the room I realized I was not the only one mesmerized by his speech. All 100-plus individuals were spellbound by this person. Why? Because he was a master storyteller.

Up to that point my advisory and coaching practice had done well, but as I sat there I wondered just what the potential could be if I began to enliven my messages using stories.

As Nancy Duarte points out in Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, stories are the most powerful delivery tool for information. More powerful and enduring than any other art form:

“People love stories because life is full of adventure and we’re hardwired to learn lessons from observing change in others. Life is messy, so we empathize with characters that have real-life challenges similar to the ones we face. When we listen to a story, the chemicals in our body change and our mind becomes transfixed. We are riveted when a character encounters a situation that involves risks, and elated when he or she averts danger and is rewarded.”

After listening to the speaker who had so transfixed me with his presentation, I asked him about his use of storytelling to get his message across. He explained that his background was in sports psychology and coaching where “image is the language of performance.”

According to Dr. Peter Jensen, a world-renowned sports psychologist, executive business coach and international speaker, it is important for athletes to imagine their performance goals and to paint and imprint repeatable mental pictures of these goals in their minds. In other words, to tell themselves success stories.

My first attempt to incorporate storytelling into a presentation came about during a professional accountants’ chapter meeting. I was asked to speak in front of about 200 accountants on the impact of change.

My first challenge was to make sure my story fit with my audience. I knew from experience that the concept of continual change was not well-known in the world of accountancy. After all, accounting was about rules and set guidelines that had stood the test of time. When change came it tended to be methodical and always after much consideration. Much of accounting involves working with events that have already taken place. I opened my speech with a question to the audience:

“How many of you here today have experience working for a public company as an accountant?” There was a good showing of hands, roughly half the group.

“If I were to ask you what is potentially the most important section in a public company’s audited and published annual report, what would you say?”

There were a few suggestions before a woman quietly raised her hand and said, “I would say it would be the annual notes referencing items on the financial statements, itemizing changes in accounting procedures and outlining outstanding items to be dealt with in the future.”

“Correct!” I said. I had their attention. Suddenly their vocation encompassed not just an account of past events, but also the present and the future. I told them they were more than history tellers: they were change agents! Thus engaged, my audience was all ears as I went on to tell the story of a client of mine who was a chief financial officer and who taught me the critical value of financial notes when considering the future value of an organization.

I now use stories to illustrate all kinds of life lessons and to help my audience retain my messages.

Your story should have three parts: a beginning to engage attention, a middle to expand on the message with examples and brief explanations, and a compelling ending to summarize the basic message and align it to your audience to make it relevant.

Remember, it is important to get to the point quickly. The best stories deliver only a few messages. The presentation that first captured my attention took place over a half-day session with the presenter weaving his stories through just three separate themes that were carefully separated by breaks.

So how do you begin to master the art of storytelling? Begin by developing a library of stories to match a variety of messages. Make sure to craft two or three different stories to match each message.

Interested in other powerful communication techniques?

Check out this eBook - The Magnificent Seven Communication Techniques for Business Professionals

You can download this book in 9 different formats including Kobo & Kindle!

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