Presentation Skills & Techniques: StorytellingWhat Is It About Storytelling That Helps Bring A Presentation Alive?
Stories work and stories have value because they help us understand. Through stories, facts and raw data gain meaning. Stories are how we best learn and visualize information. They simplify and clarify even the most complex information. They can hook an audience with emotion. What's more, stories help people remember what they've heard.
We're all storytellers.
A story, at it's simplest, is the narrative telling of an event or experience. It links events in some kind of logical and believable sequence.
We all tell stories all the time. We remember what we experience, and we tell other people what we remember in the form of a story. Human memory itself is story-based. We find it a lot easier to remember what other people have said if they tell it as a story. We learn from these stories, as others learn from the stories we tell. (See our article, Be A Storyteller, in the Winter 2003 issue of The Total Communicator.)
How to use stories.
There's really no limit to the sources that can yield a good story. Stories can come from just about anywhere: from personal experience or the experience of others; or from books, newspapers and magazines, the Internet, movies and TV programs. Some presenters even find stories from mythology. You can also recycle and adapt stories others have used. Just be sure your listeners are not likely to have heard the story before. If you do lift a story you've heard from someone else, give credit to the source.
Telling your stories.
When you're telling a story, put some feeling into it. You're telling a story, after all, not reciting facts or raw data. Your eye focus, voice, posture, gestures—all combine to add emotional power to your stories. When you use these techniques effectively, your stories have a much better chance of resonating with your listeners. Think of the good speakers you've heard—anyone, whether a colleague, your CEO, a public figure, even a performer being interviewed. Listen for the ways in which they weave stories into their remarks.
Finally, as part of your preparation, practice your delivery. Practice, again and again.