“I’m obsessed with giving the audience something they don’t see coming.”
– Jordan Peele, writer and director, Get Out. Not all great stories are delivered equally. The story swirling around inside your head may be itching to be heard but are you set up to tell it with the captivating finesse it deserves? In the past, I would have answered that question with a resounding, “No!” I used to be a terribly shy introvert, which made it difficult to speak openly and publicly, and impossible to speak confidently and passionately. Although I believed I had a compelling story swirling inside my head, I was scared to death to tell it.
“Not all great stories are delivered equally.”
– Denise Kaigler
Get out of your way
If you’re anything like me, you desperately want to get out of your own way and share your compelling story with others, but don’t know where to begin. The following 5 tips are designed to help you begin to establish your brand as a great story-teller.
Tip 1: Know your topic
It may seem obvious, but make sure you clearly understand and know the details of your story. Flubbing and tripping over its key aspects will force your audience to strain to understand and follow instead of relaxing while being inspired and moved. Grab some friends and try it out. Practice makes perfect.
Tip 2: Make it personal
We all love a great story. The best stories are those that are genuine and real. While including research and statistics may give your story credibility, adding relevant personal experiences gives it life. Test out a few different examples. See which ones bring your audience to the edge of their seats.
Tip 3: Showcase your passion
According to this report citing a Microsoft study, the human attention span averages just 8 seconds. That means you don’t have much time to hook your audience. Starting with and maintaining a high level of passion will ensure your audience joins you on the journey and stays with you throughout the ride. Use those 8 seconds wisely.
Tip 4: Express your “Why
Most likely, an experience or an individual inspired you to set out on your professional journey. Perhaps your parent died from an incurable disease so you became a health care professional. Or you watched your sibling thrive under the supervision of a caring teacher, so you became an educator. Discovering and expressing your unique “why” will inspire others to discover and share theirs.
Tip 5: Surprise your audience
I was a manager at Reebok when I began speaking in public on a regular basis. I was still struggling with my shyness so came up with the idea to surprise audiences with Reebok gift certificates. Today, I surprise audiences with my personal stories – sprinkled with celebrities – and invite others to come up and share theirs. Most people appreciate the opportunity to open up and express themselves. They just need a platform, and a caring and empathetic hand on their shoulder.
Watch and learn.
Once you have shared a few stories, consider having them recorded. Watch them with friends and carefully critique every aspect of your delivery. Consider also asking for feedback from members of the audience. While feedback is sometimes hard to receive, it can be very helpful. The words audience members share with you could critically shape how you share your words with them.
Do you have a story to tell but not sure you can be a great story-teller? What challenges are you struggling to overcome?