Improve your ability to craft stories that will resonate and drive home your message. By Priya Prakasan
The art and skill of storytelling is one that every leader must master. It’s a tool that has the power to persuade, motivate, and influence. So how does one build strong, compelling business stories? Here are some tips become a good storyteller
1. Find your purpose
This one seems simple, and obvious, enough but when you try it you might be surprised by ho.w hard pressed you are to actually list down your objectives. What is the point you wish to make with the story? What purpose does it serve? List its core elements and see whether they actually meet your objectives. You need to figure why you are telling this story to this particular lot of people. Understand your audience, and remember you’re not targeting a crowd, but individual people. Design your story accordingly. Understand how you want these people to think, feel or act. Does your story meet that objective?
2. Keep it short and straightforward
Try to keep the story as short as possible to keep people’s attention from wondering. If you drag on for too long attention will start to flag, people will become restless, and you’ve lost your hold on them. Anything more than 20 minutes is a bad idea. Keep it short and crisp by sticking to the essentials and weeding out anything that doesn’t serve your purpose. It also helps if you focus on three key points that you wish to drive home. People tend to better remember three pieces of information provided verbally. So rather than droning on, use three points to form the crux of your story. Make it memorable by keeping it relatively simple. Using too much data and jargon can be distracting/boring.
3. Talk from experience
A great way to connect with your audience is to use your own experiences and memories while sharing your message. While they don’t have to form the crux of the story, you can use them as a starting point to draw the audience in and build engagement. Look for events in your life that would provide interesting anecdotes that illustrate your point as well as make you look authentic and approachable. People are always drawn to stories of success, failure, struggles, and hurdles overcome. Use these to move your audience and make an impact.
4. But don’t focus only on yourself
Just because we’ve asked you to mine your personal experiences, it doesn’t mean you need to be the hero of the story. In fact, if you talk about how great/clever/intelligent you are, your fancy life, etc you’re likely to alienate your audience and they will tune off. Instead set aside your ego and focus on the other people involved, your employees, etc. Make the story about the lessons learnt, experience gained, solutions found, and strategies discovered. You’re helping the audience identify with your and relate to the narration.
5. Be interactive
The key to delivering a highly interactive story is to add just the right amount of smart visuals to garner an emotional reaction. You can incorporate interactive tools to transform something simple and static into a more dynamic and lively story. Engage all their senses by providing different sensory inputs. Use them to help the story come alive. When it comes to visuals, don’t let them be accompaniments to the story, rather let them illustrate the story itself. Do you need to tell all parts of the story? Can some bits be conveyed visually? Make use of all the tools in your arsenal to help generate the reaction you want.
Photograph: Jannoon028 – Freepik.com