Speakers Need To Learn How To Use Stories To Connect & Engage Audiences

Stories bring out the emotion in our audiences
Stories bring out the emotion in our audiences
Image Credit: Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

The one thing that I think that I can say that everyone will agree with me about is that when we go to the trouble of giving a speech, we want to be remembered. In order to make this happen, what we say has to use the importance of public speaking to connect with our audience. What we need to understand is that the facts that we include in our speech are not going to be tied to the audience’s emotions and therefore won’t be remembered. However, if we can work stories into our speech then we will have discovered our greatest tool that we can use to both connect with our audience and engage them.

Stories Are All About Pictures

As speakers, what we often think about when we are creating a speech is what words we are going to be using. It turns out that we’re thinking about the wrong thing. What we should be thinking about is what its going to take to make any story that we include in our speech work with our audience. What this means for us is that we’re going to have to take some time and study the psychology that lies behind the stories that we want to tell and the impact that they will make. If you can reach an understanding of these things, then it will become easier for you to create stories that are effective for you.

As speakers, we need to understand what it is going to take in order to get our audience to stand up and take action. It turns out that our audience will refuse to take action simply based on our words – it’s going to take visuals to motivate them. What this means for us speakers is that we need to understand that for our audience, their thoughts are not going to be stored as the words that we’ve spoken, but rather as images that play out in their minds. If you want your words to have a real and lasting impact on your audience, then you are going to have to first wrap them in images. By doing this you will allow your audience to really connect with your story and they’ll be able to both store it and retrieve it later on. The visuals that you use will allow your story to stick when just raw data won’t.

You Don’t Need A Good Story

If I have been able to convince you that in order to really connect with your next audience you are going to need to show up with a great story as part of your speech, then I think that I know what the next thing that is going to happen will be. You are going to start searching around for what you think will be a “good story”. The problem is that this is something that is really hard to define. It turns out that if this is what you’ve been asking then you’ve been asking the wrong question.

The kind of story that you should be looking for is one that will allow you to connect with your audience. What your story needs to have is some sort of experience that your audience will be able to relate to. Once you have identified what this “thing” is, then you can spend your time turning it into a good story. One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t always have to be the hero of your story in order to make it powerful. Your audience can learn more from your story when you are vulnerable. You really connect when you are the one who is learning rather then the one teaching the lesson.

It’s All About The Delivery

As speakers we understand that in the end, the power of a speech comes from its delivery. In order to give a really good speech you are going to have to make sure that you have both of the key requirements: a great script and a great delivery. Just showing up to give a speech with one of these and not the other will cause you to fail.

As we build the speech that we are going to deliver we have to understand that every word that we choose to use will end up making a difference in how our audience receives our speech. Each word will either add power to our speech or will take away from it. Each pause, gesture, or change in our voice or our expression has the power to enhance or take away from our speech. What we need to do is to learn how to harness this and make it work for us.

What All Of This Means For You

The reason that we give speeches is because we want to change the world one audience at a time. In order to make this happen, we need to learn how to use the benefits of public speaking to give speeches that our audience will remember long after we finish speaking. In order to make this happen, we need to learn how we can work stories into our speeches in order to make them memorable.

The first thing that we need to do is to take the time to understand why a story is memorable. We need to understand that its images that will cause our audience to take action. We have to wrap the words in our speech in images to get people to take action. We need to stop ourselves from looking for a “good” story and instead look for experiences that will allow us to connect with our audience. Once we have this, we can then build a story around it. In the end, it will all be about how we deliver our story. Understand that everything that goes into a story will have an impact on how it is interpreted by your audience.

What makes stories so great for a speaker is that finally we have a tool that will allow us to connect with our audience and be remembered long after our speech is over. As powerful as this tool is, we need to understand that to make it work for us we have to have a good understanding of how best to go about using it. Take the time to create stories that will allow you to connect with your audience and you’ll be able to become the speaker that they’ll be talking about for a long time.

– 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 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!

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