Storytelling is the secret weapon of outstanding public speakers. Using a well-told, interesting story that is connected to your subject ensures the audience will remember your message. What the exceptional speakers understand is that opening your speech with a story what makes you stand out because so few people do this and those who do rarely do it correctly and effectively.
In a recent post we discussed various ways to begin a speech, making sure you aren’t among those who often mistakenly open with mundane pleasantries that no one even listens to, like “Thank you for being here. Thanks for this opportunity.” Yawn.
Visualize yourself approaching the podium, standing at the microphone confidently, smiling warmly at the crowd, pausing ever so slightly before speaking. The audience is expecting the normal, boring opening. Surprise! You begin by saying something like, “Cancer. It was the word I never wanted to hear—especially from my doctor. Four years ago, I received news that shook me to my core.”
Now you have them and you won’t let them go! The audience will be enthralled because they can tell you are going to reveal yourself. They will know immediately they are in the presence of an accomplished and compelling speaker. They will let out a satisfied sigh, thinking, “Now, this is going to be good,” or “I can’t wait to hear more!”
Your story doesn’t have to be long or complicated, so please don’t tell yourself this is too hard or you’re not a storyteller. We tell “stories” every day when we relate to our loved ones what we did that day. It can be just that simple. Begin listening to yourself as you repeat, more than once, something you experienced. Make a note of those stories you’ve told to your family and friends over the years.
Ask yourself what events in your life made a difference—what motivated you to open your business or why did you choose the charity you support or what one person is your most important mentor? Then, write it down, make a story list and keep it handy where you can easily add to it and review it when you’re ready to write a new speech or presentation. You’ll find a gold mine of stories from your very own life and those are the ones that will resonate with the audience when YOU share them.
If you want to connect with your audience deeply, tell them a story. If you want to connect with your audience immediately, begin with a story.
Still have questions about how to incorporate storytelling into your next speech? Contact Amy for additional information.