Do you remember storytelling from your childhood?
Some stories are as clear in my mind as if I heard them yesterday. I can remember who was telling the story, what it was about, what the actual words were and most of all, how I felt listening to it.
the power of good storytelling. It lives on in the minds of the
listener often for years and years.
No matter how old we are we can still be captivated by a story told
well. That's why including stories as part of any speech you give will
Obviously there are some guidelines to follow. It's not just any story you tell or of any length. And there are specific ways to improve your storytelling.
Let's get started -
Begin with your audience
You need to know who they are, what their likes and dislikes are, to get an idea of what you can, and can't tell them.
The treatment or how you tell your story will vary
between audiences, just as humor does. What is funny to one group may
not be to another. It is safer to know rather than guess and risk
Fit your story to your theme or topic
without purpose will go down like the proverbial lead balloon. Tell
stories that provide examples for the points you are making.
Make your stories personal
The audience will love you for it.
Use your own experiences to poke a little fun at yourself. Exposing your
fears, habits, or misunderstandings lets the audience identify with
you. You stop being the remote expert and become one of them.
Here's an example from me to illustrate
This is a true story from my youth. I've told it to students as part of preparing them for formal job interviews. It's from the what-not-to-do department. It had the effect of making them laugh, relax, and learn from my naivety.
Keeping it short
If you go on too long, the impact is lost and
you stray too far from your original purpose which was to give an
effective example of a point you were making.
Eliminating all the inconsequential detail
The rule is if it doesn't add to the story - cut it out. Too much fluff weakens the impact.
Practicing your story
Learn it rather than read it. Good storytelling is active and direct.
Reading will not give you immediate contact with your audience because you have to keep returning to a text. Without it, you're free to deliver one line to the man at the back, an aside to the woman at the front etc. etc.
The more practice you give
yourself the better you'll become.
Varying your voice
Try different voices for different characters. Find where to pause, where to stress a word and where to go faster and do what you're saying.
For example, if you're talking about being happy then reflect it in your body, in your voice. Show it as well as tell it!
Remember great storytelling is active rather than passive.
For more specific information on characterization techniques click the link.
Rehearsing in front of a few trusted friends to get their feedback
Find out if your story works before trying it out in a more public arena.
Introducing your story well
Did you know there are more effective ways than others to introduce or lead into your story?
Read about the best storytelling setups here.
I did get that job!
There's easy-to-follow help with vocal delivery here: varying your speech rate, using pauses effectively, changing pitch and tone, projection, breathing, and more.