Storytelling is a powerful way to help us find personal meaning within a shared context, engage us in a journey and giving us a reason to believe.
By sharing inspiring stories that illustrate the desired changes you’re striving to make, you’ll give people a personal role to identify with and the motivation to change.
Yes, it’s an art; a skill; but with practise and focus you can achieve great things using stories.
In the work environment we often tell out story by the water cooler, via power point or in a meeting, so we have written this article to reflect the work scenario.
Bullet points do not inspire... stories do! The boss of Amazon has banned Power Points in meetings as they do not engage. He encourages story telling.
Here’s five things not to do when creating and telling your stories in the work scenario of meetings presentations or public speaking!
Mistake one: be boring.
The last thing you want is for people to switch off, fall asleep or, worse still, go away and tell everyone how boring you are!
The anti-dote to boring-ness is enthusiasm!
Enthusiasm never fails to entertain. This is your subject and your story, so you have to enthuse – no-one else can do it for you! If you can’t be enthusiastic about your subject, be enthusiastic about the opportunity you have to share learning and knowledge.
Humour is good but risky. You don’t need to start your story with a joke, but it sure can help to break the ice and grab attention. If a joke isn’t appropriate, start off with humanity and be transparent.
Keep things light.
You can still give valuable information, but if you are entertaining more people will remember you and your story. They will also be more likely to engage, ask questions and share your tale.
Mistake two: sell.
Your best stories aren't about your project, products or you. It’s about the bigger story that makes your audience heroes! It’s about the outcome. It’s about why should people listen to you, engage, participate, and remember you.
Focus on delivering valuable information. Explain how to solve the problem. How you came up with a solution. This will make you much more interesting and will help you make emotional connections. You can creatively weave your desired outcome, project, product or service into that valuable information.
The single biggest mistake you can make is thinking a story is an opportunity to bang on about your main message. Leave that to advertising please. People want stories to entertain, inform and help them solve problems. People want useful and relevant information.
Mistake three: fail to rehearse.
This is especially true if you’re up on stage with a PowerPoint presentation or any electronics!
If there is a delay due to technology or otherwise, as an audience member you feel that your time is being wasted.
As a speaker it is tough to recover from a slow start. Make sure you’re comfy using a remote and clicking through the slides. If possible, practice with the equipment beforehand.
Make sure that you can tell your story without slides or pictures. A tough ask but your audience will appreciate it massively.
As the saying goes “Practice makes perfect”. The more you practice the more confident you will be. If you’re confident, you’ll be great. You want to be focused on your delivery and not making sure the right slide is up or faffing with the clicker!
But remember, technological failures happen. If you really want to hit it out of the park have a back-up plan.
Mistake four: going on and on. And on.
So you’ve told your story and avoided being boring. Super! But make sure you don’t become boring by going over time! This shows lack of respect for the chair of the meeting, event organiser, the audience and the next speaker. It’s a school boy/girl error so avoid at all costs.
Set a timer on your phone for five minutes before you’re due to finish so you can engage with your audience and answer questions. Answering questions lets you demonstrate your expertise, put straight any confusions, gives you an invaluable insight into how your story has been received and engage with people.
When you answer someone’s question you’re forming a connection. If you don’t leave time for questions you’re missing out on a chance to earn the trust of your audience.
Mistake five: stay anonymous.
Okay, so some stories are told anonymously or with a pseudo-name, but if you’re wanting to engage and influence people they need to know who you are!
Don’t omit any mention of who you work for or why you’re telling a story.
You should mention your job title and organisation or department at the start and again in your conclusion. Even if you think most people do know you... some will not.
At the start, quickly talk about why you telling this story and why you are a credible speaker. You only need to demonstrate your credibility.
Be sociable and let people know your social media addresses so the Twitterati in your audience can follow you and talk about how good you are!
Invite people to email you. Your storytelling opportunity will have been wasted if nobody can contact or follow you!