What Is The Message Hidden In Your Stories?

Sure your speech has stories, but what is the message that is hidden in them?
Sure your speech has stories, but what is the message that is hidden in them?
Image Credit: überBusy

Most speakers understand that if they can work a story or two into their next speech they’ll have a better chance of both capturing and holding onto their audience’s attention. What a lot of us don’t realize is that often times the stories that we are so good at telling all have a common theme that runs through them. If we can take the time to pick out what that theme is, we may have discovered a way to make ourselves become an even more powerful speaker and make better use of the importance of public speaking.

Finding Your Common Theme

All of us have stories to tell. We’ve not been able to reach this point in life without running into crazy bosses, weird family members, or vacations that didn’t turn out the way that we had expected them to. What a lot of us don’t realize as we tell our stories over and over again is that these stories that we have generally have a common theme that runs through them. What you need to do is take the time to discover what the theme in your stories is. Once you have that identified, you then need to harness your message and go about framing it in a way that your audience will be able to get the maximum value from it.

What a lot of speaker’s don’t realize is that in order to have a set of stories with a theme in them, you don’t have to have climbed Mt. Everest. Instead, the stories that you tell your audience can simply relate to those things that we do on a day-to-day basis just to get by in this thing that we call life. It turns that how we are able to accomplish this on a daily basis is what our audience would like to hear from us. This message is truly “our message” and when we are able to share it with an audience then we have a real possibility of making a difference in someone’s life.

If you want to start the process of finding the theme that lies within your stories, you are probably going to have to get some help from outside. What this means is that you are going to have to sit down with your family and friends and ask them some very specific questions. One of the most important questions is to ask them what they have been able to learn from you when you’ve told them stories. After they have answered that question, ask them if they can tell what stories you tell them over and over again. The information that they provide you with is what we are going to be able to use in order to start to build “our message”.

Adding Power To Your Story

Once you’ve been able to identify the theme that has been hidden in your stories, you are going to have to find a way to go about making your stories become even more powerful. One of the things that you are going to want to start to do is to make sure that when you are telling one of your stories, you tell it in the present tense. It turns out that telling your audience about something that is happening right now is much more powerful than telling them about something that happened in the past.

We all know that adding humor to a speech can make the speech that much more memorable. However, just exactly how to go about adding humor to a speech can be a difficult thing for us to do at times. One way that we can accomplish this goal is to start to act-out the characters who show up in our stories. Instead of just narrating a person who is in your story, become that person and speak like they would. If you so choose, you can also add a voice to objects that show up in your stories.

When you wrap up your story, you want to make sure that your audience has been able to learn the lesson that you were trying to teach them. This means that you are going to want to end your story with the lessons that you hope that your audience has learned. This means that you’ll want to find a way to provide your audience with a takeaway from your speech. A great takeaway would be a suggestion for how your audience can take what you’ve told them in your speech and start to work it into their lives.

What All Of This Means For You

A lot of speakers have stories that they like to include in their speeches. These are the stories that we tell over and over again. What a lot of us don’t realize is that our stories often have a common theme that runs through them.

What we need to do is to take the time to find out what the theme in our stories is so that we can share the benefits of public speaking. Our stories don’t have to be about fantastic accomplishments, they can just be about how we are able to make it through each and every day. The best way to find out what our theme is would be to ask our friends and family what they’ve been able to get out of our stories. When we work a story into our speech, in order to maximize its impact we’ll want to deliver it in the present tense. In order to add some humor to our speech instead of telling it as a narrative, we can act out the characters. Finally, when we wrap our story up, we’ll want to leave our audience with a takeaway that they can use in their lives.

Stories are a powerful way for any speaker to connect with his or her audience. When we discover that the personal stories that we’ve been telling have a common theme, we can harness this to make our stories become that much more powerful. Use your theme and enhanced storytelling techniques to connect with your audience and make their lives that much better.

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

Question For You: How many different stories do you think that you can work into a single 30 minute 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

Let’s face it – we don’t give speeches just to hear ourselves talk. There is a reason that we go to the effort of creating a speech, practicing a speech, and then delivering a speech. The reason that we are willing to do all of this work is because we understand the importance of public speaking and we want to connect with our audience. We want them to understand what we are trying to tell them. We want to change their world. However, just knowing that we want to do this is not enough. We need to know how to do it.