By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 11-30-2022
Do you remember story telling 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.
And that's the power of good storytelling. It lives on in our memory 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
enhance it immeasurably.
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 story telling.
Shall we get started?
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
Story telling without a specific purpose will go down like the proverbial lead balloon.
What do you want your audience to do, or feel as they listen to your story?
To work as you want it to, a story must fit your audience, your purpose and you must be credible telling it. You need to keep it real.
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.
The power of a good story is that it humanizes; reaching across barriers to bring us home to the heart of ourselves and, each other. A story helps us feel, think, know and understand.
It is a true story from my youth. I told it to students as part of preparing them for formal job interviews. It's from my extensive what-not-to-do department. The story made them laugh, relax, and hopefully they learned a little from my naivety.
If you go on too long the impact is lost. And you will have strayed from your original purpose which was to give an effective example of a point you were making.
The rule is if it doesn't add to the story - cut it out. Too much fluff weakens the impact.
Learn the story rather than read it. Good
story telling 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.
Try different voices for different characters.
Find out where to pause, where to stress a word and where to go faster and act out what you're saying.
For example, if you're talking about being happy then reflect it in your body, and in your voice. Show it as well as tell it!
Remember great storytelling is active rather than passive.
For more specific information click the link: characterization techniques.
Did you know there are more effective ways than others to introduce or lead into your story?
Read about the best storytelling setups here.
Find out if your story works before trying it out in a more public arena.
Do you know the expression: I wish the ground had opened up and swallowed me? It refers to the embarrassment of getting something wrong, and wanting to be out the situation, out of people's sight, as fast as possible. It's not a pleasant place to be - a lesson I've learned the hard way!
Do try your story out. I've got helpful information here: how to rehearse your speech.
I got that job!
Click the link for easy-to-follow help with vocal delivery: how to vary your speech rate, use pauses effectively, change pitch and tone, voice projection, good breathing, and more.
I've also got two pages of speech topic suggestions that are perfect for honing story telling skills. (If you're looking for suitable topics for the Toastmasters Level 3 Storytelling project, do check these out.)