Babe Ruth was great at baseball. Michael Jordan was fantastic at basketball. Joe Namath was a master of the game of U.S. football. As public speakers we’d like to be known as being the best at what we do. All of these sports stars had talents that made them better than everyone else. Guess what – there’s a speaking skill that can make you better than every other speaker out there!
Why Storytelling Matters
When you are giving a speech, you know that one of the benefits of public speaking is that you are in a position to both entertain and motivate your audience. The trick is finding a way to do both of these tasks effectively.
Speakers have a number of different skills that allow them to understand what their audience both wants and needs: listening skills, a presentation tip or two, and storytelling. Of these, storytelling is the most powerful.
The reason that spending your time developing your storytelling skills is well worth the investment is because stories are the way that mankind has been exchanging information since the beginning of time. As humans, we are hardwired to listen when someone tells us a story. This is exactly what you want your audience to be doing when you are speaking.
The importance of public speaking is that you can connect with your audience and, with a little luck, change their lives. If you have the ability to do a good job of telling them stories that make your point, then making that connection just got a whole lot easier to do.
3 Secrets To Telling A Story Well
Saying that you want to develop your storytelling skills is one thing, finding out exactly how to go about doing it is something else. Craig Harrison is a professional storyteller who has studied what it takes to tell a good story. He has three suggestions for how we can become better at this critical speaking skill:
- Use Your Voice: When we are telling a story, one of our most powerful tools is our voice. When a story has multiple people in it (and what story doesn’t?), if you take the time to make each person’s part of your story sound different, then your audience will be able to follow along much easier. No, we may not be professional voice actors, but it doesn’t take that much of a change to create a unique “voice” for each character in your story.
- Take Over The Stage: Your body is another important tool that can really help your audience get into the story that you are telling. In order to use this tool most effectively, you need to use the entire area that you’ve been given to speak in. Different parts of your story can take place in different parts of your stage. Moving from one location to another can show your audience that a change is happening in your story.
- Don’t Say Anything: As speakers we often spend a great deal of time thinking about what we’ll say next. When you are telling your audience a story, you need to spend your time thinking about the next time that you are going to stop talking and pause. The silence that comes along with a pause is a powerful tool that allows your story to sink into your audience’s heads before you move on to the next part of your story.
What All Of This Means For You
In order to become a speaker that everyone wants to hear, you need to develop the skills that will make you want to be heard. One of the most important of these skills is the ability to tell stories well.
It turns out that storytelling is an art that can be learned. Three of the most important skills that you’ll need to develop include using vocal variety when telling your story, using your entire stage to support your story, and discovering how to use pauses to draw your audience into your story.
It’s not impossible to become a great storyteller, it just takes practice. By focusing your practice time on developing these three skills you can transform your next speech. You’ll become the storyteller that everyone wants to hear from so that they’ll be able to find out how the story turns out in the end!
Question For You: Do you think that it is possible to use too much vocal variety while giving a 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
A quick question for you: are you afraid to fail? Would you be willing to get up and give a speech if you knew that it was going to turn out badly? Even though we all know the importance of public speaking, I’m willing to bet that a lot of us would say “no” – speakers who do a good job get asked to speak again, those who don’t are never asked back. However, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong – get ready to fail if you want to succeed.