As public speakers it seems like we’ve been told forever that using stories as a part of our speech is a powerful tool. Stories are part of the importance of public speaking. However, what’s been missing from this advice is just exactly how to go about using stories in our speech. I mean, do stories need to take over our speech in order to be effective? Should we only tell short stories? What’s the right way to go about using this powerful tool?
Why Are Stories So Powerful?
Before we spend a lot of time talking about how you can work stories effectively into your next speech, let’s first make sure that this is going to all be worth it. Do stories really work? It turns out that the answer to this question is “yes”. We humans have been hard-wired to respond to stories. We enjoy hearing them and they are a key way that we learn new things. It is almost as though stories are a part of our DNA.
As we think back to our childhoods, a great number of the events that we can remember have to do with storytelling. What this means for us as adult speakers who want to use stories in our speeches is that by adding a story to our speech, we’ll be able to attract both the attention and the interest of our next audience.
The other powerful aspect of adding stories to your speech is that you’ll be boosting the chances of your speech being remembered long after you are done telling it. The reason that our audiences are able to hold on to what we’ve told them during a speech when we used a story is because we presented the information to them in a logical sequence within the story. If your story is able to tap into your audience’s feelings, then you will have found a way to make sure that they remember the story for a long time.
Three Ways To Use Stories In Your Next Speech
If we can all agree that stories are one of the most powerful tools that we have as public speakers, then the next question that we need to find an answer to is just exactly how we can go about using stories in our next speech. The key point to remember is that we really want to give a speech, not tell a story. This means that the stories need to support our speech.
In every speech that we give, we need to start the speech out by introducing ourselves to the audience. I would suggest that we all have our own ways of going about doing this. Generally we list our our most impressive accomplishments in the hopes that our audience will be impressed. An alternate way of going about doing this is to tell your audience a story about your occupation, your hobbies, etc. Open a door and invite them into your world briefly so that they can experience what you do. This will make you a much more approachable speaker to them.
Next, you are giving your speech for a very specific reason. You would like to change the way that your audience sees the world. In order for this to happen, you are going to have to take the time during your speech to create some common ground between you and your audience. Sharing a brief story with your audience about one of your personal experiences that would be similar to something that they had experienced would be a great way to go about creating this common ground.
Finally, every time that you deliver a speech that has new ideas in it, you are going to run into resistance from your audience. Not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say. You are going to need to be ready to deal with this push back and stories are a great tool for doing this. As a part of the story that you tell, you are going to want to paraphrase the push back that you are receiving. This will show everyone that you’ve listened to their objections and it will create a launch pad for your story. Your story can show how their objections are valid, but that your new idea is really the way that everyone should go.
What All Of This Means For You
As speakers we’ve been told that stories are one of the benefits of public speaking and are powerful tools that we can use to better connect with our audience. However, what we’ve not been told is just exactly how to go about using stories in our next speech.
Stories are powerful tools because our audience has been hard-wired to respond to them. If we take the time to work stories into the beginning of our speeches in order to introduce ourselves, if we use them to build common ground between us and our audiences, and if we use them to defuse audience push back to our ideas, then we will have used this powerful tool correctly.
As speakers we have one goal every time we give a speech: we want to change the world. In order for that to happen, we need to connect with our audience and get them to remember our speech. Stories are a powerful way to make this happen. Use these suggestions on where and when to use stories in your next speech and watch how much more powerful your speech turns out to be.
Question For You: How many different stories do you think that you can work into one speech?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
The good news is that you’ve been asked to give a speech (trust me on this one, it is good news). The bad news is that the topic that you’ll be talking about is dreadfully boring. Or your audience is an audience that has the world’s shortest attention span no matter what you’ll be talking about. No matter which situation you find yourself in, despite the importance of public speaking you’ve clearly got a challenge on your hands. You are going to need to find a way to capture your audience’s attention and then hold on to it during your entire speech. It turns out that what your speech is going to need is a bit of humor…