Use Stories To Inspire, Motivate, and Educate Your Audience

Ideas are wrapped in stories that catch on
Ideas are wrapped in stories that catch on
Image Credit: Nick Piggott

Any time that we give a speech, we want to find a way to ensure that that our speech makes an impact on our audience. We want to be able to use the importance of public speaking to capture our audience’s imagination, have them pay attention to what we are saying, and with a little luck decide to take action based on what we’ve told them when we are done speaking. What this means is that we’ve got to find a way to connect with them in a way that will really get them fired up. It turns out that we have a tool that we can use that will allow us to do this. It’s called a story.

The Power Of Stories

When you give a speech, you hope that the ideas in your speech will go viral. You want the ideas that you are talking about to catch on. When this is your goal, you can use storytelling as a way to inspire your audience. We need to understand that stories and storytelling have been with us since the beginning of time. When early man sat around a campfire, he spent his time telling stories to the other people gathered with him. Stories were used to communicate how to hunt and gather. We still tell stories like this. When business leaders tell stories as a part of a speech, these stories tend to fall into one of five different categories: inspiring, educational, simplifying, motivating, or launching something new.

Stories That Inspire Audiences

If you want to inspire your audience, how can you go about doing this? In order to make this happen, as the teller of the story you are going to have to embrace your story that tells of triumph over adversity. By sharing this type of story with your audience, you’ll be challenging them to start to dream bigger. The good news for you as a speaker is that your audience is hardwired to hear rags-to-riches stories. Your audience will enjoy hearing you tell this type of story because they have a deep need to hear this type of story. Meaning is found in the struggle.

Stories That Educate Audiences

When we set out to educate an audience, what we are trying to do is to provide them with a new way of looking at their world. We can use stories to make this happen. Studies have shown that most people find it easy to play the role of storyteller. What this means for your audience is that they will respond better to you telling them a story instead of you presenting them with a great deal of data to back up your point. Speakers who want to educate their audience do use data, but in order to get their audience to remember what they have told them they use stories.

Stories That Simplify Complex Things For Audiences

The best speakers are the ones who can take complex topics and transform them into simple stories that they can then share with their audience. The thinking is that if your speech can’t be made to fit on the back of an envelope, then it’s probably too complex. The goal of a speaker is to take a set of complex ideas and then explain them to an audience clearly, simply, and concisely. We need to understand that any story that we tell should have a villain (a problem) and a hero (a solution). As we tell our stories we should use simple words that will make our stories understandable by just about anyone. Speakers need to make sure that the stories that they are telling are very easy to understand.

Stories That Can Motivate Audiences

The stories that we tell to our audience often contain examples of behavior that we would like them to emulate. Using a story to communicate this information can be critical because stories allow us to tap into a powerful personal motivation tool: self-esteem. We can use stories to educate an audience on model behaviors. Audiences understand that recognition can be a powerful motivator and so they’ll be motivated to try to emulate the stories that we’ve told them.

Stories That Have The Power To Launch Movements

As speakers, we are placed in a very powerful position. We have an audience who has agreed to spend time listening to what we have to say. If we can find a way to make the most of this opportunity then we just might have a chance to launch a movement. What we need to realize is that in order to launch a movement it’s going to take more than facts, it’s going to take stories.

What All Of This Means For You

The reason that we give speeches is because we want to have an impact on the lives of the members of our audience. However, in order to do this we need to find a way to connect with them in order to share the benefits of public speaking. Speakers have a very powerful tool that we can use to make this kind of connection: stories. If we can do this correctly, then we just might be able to get our audiences to take action based on what we have told them.

There are five different types of stories that business speakers can share with their audiences: inspiring, educational, simplifying, motivating, or launching something new. Speakers who inspire have to tell a story in which there is a triumph over adversity. Educational speakers provide their audiences with a new way of looking at their world. Simplifying speakers can take complex topics and explain them simply to us using a story. Motivating speakers use stories to get their audience to want to take action. Speakers who can launch a movement are able to use stories to move beyond facts and use stories to motivate their audience.

Stories are powerful tools that speakers can use to connect with an audience. We need to understand that there is not just one type of story, rather there are a number of different types of stories that we can use. We need to be able to select the correct story for the right situation. The next time that you are giving a speech, take the time to carefully select a story that will allow you to have the biggest impact on your audience.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many stories do you think that you should try to fit into a speech?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated. P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!   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 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

Let’s face it – when we give a speech, we don’t want to go in there defenseless. If it was just going to be us standing on a stage talking with an audience, we’d all feel rather exposed. To provide ourselves with a sense of cover, we often show up with a deck of slides that we’ll be presenting during our speech in order to share the importance of public speaking with our audience. This does afford us some protection; however, if we do a lousy job of creating the slides then we’ll have sabotaged our presentation and we may just be wasting our time up there. What does it take to allow a speaker to deliver a killer presentation?