What is your favorite movie or book? No matter what you choose, the reason is most likely because it tells a good story. That’s no accident. A good storyteller weaves a tale that dramatic, dynamic, and memorable. As a speaker, isn’t that exactly what you want to achieve? Your journey to transform from a speaker into a storyteller is easier than you think.
Know your audience
Before you can tell your story, you need to know who’s listening. Customize your cadence and your content to the audience. Is it an auditorium with lights and a stage? Or is it more intimate like a break out session in a meeting room? Whether the audience is big or small, there is a reason why they chose to hear you. What are they expecting to gain from their time with you? Having a clear idea of who might be attending your talk will give you a roadmap to what you should discuss. For instance, if you are a motivational speaker and your audience is in the financial services, you may want to emphasize building trust through motivation. But if your audience is in the technical field, perhaps emphasizing leadership through motivation is a better fit. Know your audience and adjust your presentation accordingly.
Grab their interest
All good stories start with a good hook and take the listener on a journey. Reading dry statistics from a PowerPoint or wagging finger and dictating to the audience what they should do is no fun. Instead, start with a personal anecdote about you or a situation you encountered that relates to your talk with an unexpected, emotional, or humorous background. Get them interested right from the beginning by giving a little of yourself.
Delivering a talk that encourages the audience to identify with you lays the foundation for a more effective and engaging presentation. Writers hear the phrase, ‘show, don’t tell’, a lot when they receive critiques of their work. If you want to grab the audience and be more engaging, you will need to show, not tell. Provide meaningful, vivid details in your presentation. Don’t overly rely on statistics. Use fun facts to highlight or punctuate your talk, not as your primary message.
Get to the point
Just because you have the spotlight doesn’t mean you need to hog it! Stay within your allotted time. A good storyteller knows when to end the story. A good storyteller also knows how to pace the story. Generally, stories are constructed with a narrative arc in three acts. The first act is the introduction which may take about 10 – 15% of your time. The second act where you will see the climax of the story could take up to 70% of your time. The third act where you wrap things up would be the remaining time. If your presentation falls within those guidelines, you are pacing the delivery and bringing the presentation to a natural feeling conclusion.
Practice, practice, practice
You don’t need a script or teleprompter but rehearsing your content and getting comfortable with it will pay off during the actual presentation. Know the content like the back of your hand. Being an effective and dynamic speaker takes practice. If you have a trusted colleague or friend who can help you assess your presentation, ask them to listen and take their constructive feedback with an open mind and heart.
As you explore your presentation style, keep the following elements in mind. Your audience wants a story they can believe in, see themselves in, or aspire to be in. How will you raise your game to be more than a speaker and become a storyteller?
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Kristen White is an award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker and entrepreneurial media expert. Her media credits included the award-winning film Shamanic Trekker, Journey to the Source and Mandala, a new series featuring best-selling authors in spirituality and wellness, both are available on Amazon Prime.
Kristen is the CEO of White Media Agency who provides online business marketing and development entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, life coaches and businesses in the wellness and personal development marketplace.