Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher. In this episode, Jeff expands on one of the most important skills effective public speakers have: Storytelling. Knowing how to tell a great story is the key to creating a memorable public speech. Stories connect with our emotions and compel us to act. People might forget your bullet points, but they will not forget your story.
1) Prime your audience
Tell your audience 1) that you are about to tell a story, and 2) that you love to tell the story.
By telling your audience that you are about to tell a story, you are creating anticipation.
Anticipation will keep your audience engaged with what you are saying.
2) Use Vivid Details. Paint the Picture of Your Story.
Great communication occurs when the speaker can paint vivid pictures in the mind of the audience. The details that you put into your stories are the key to success. These details also make the content of your speech more memorable. For example: Instead of saying, “It was a cold day.” say, “I pulled the sleeves of my jacket over my hands to try to keep them warm.”
Make sure that the details you choose to elaborate on are relevant to your content and your message you are delivering. For example: If you are talking about meeting a new boss, don’t talk about what you ate for breakfast.
3) Detail the person.
Describe the most important people in your story by making a generalization that everyone will understand.
Keep in mind that the details you are using to describe the person should be relevant to the point you are about to make. For example: “Mary was the kind of woman who ironed her handkerchiefs.” or “John was the kind of man who shot first and aimed second.”
4) Create anticipation with a payoff.
Create tension by explaining what is on the line in your story.
Allow the pressure to build so that your audience is thinking, “What happens next?”
Don’t go overboard trying to create unnecessary drama.
5) Summarize your story with a takeaway
Finish your story by connecting it to the main point you are trying to make.
The benefit of adding this element is that your high-impact statement will be more memorable because it will be tied to the emotion of the story.
Q: What holds you back from taking on public speaking opportunities? If you were to give a speech tomorrow, what would you talk about? What stories might help you make your point?
Q: Describe a story that you heard during a speech that still resonates with you. What was special or unique about the story? How did you feel while you were listening to it? What action did it prompt you to take?
Q: Who is the best public speaker you know? How do they use stories in their speeches? What other techniques do they use to emphasize their point?
Think about some of the turning points in your life. What was the turning point in the story? What actions lead to the turning point? What other people were important in causing or delaying the turning point? Take some time to write down these details. Now, when you need to use a story in a speech, you can pull from the examples you have already thought through and add more details to draw attention to the specific aspect of the story that relates to your speech.
The next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the turning points. How do you feel during the rising action? What details caused you to lean forward, increased your heart rate, or made your palms sweat? Why were those moments suspenseful? Consider how you can imitate the techniques used in movies to build tension in your next speech.
If you do not consider yourself a good speaker, take time to listen to some speeches every day. You could listen to one longer speech once a week, or a TedTalk on the way home from work every day. The more you hear people practicing the art of storytelling, the more naturally it will come to you when you are preparing your own speech.