Have you ever listened to Zig Ziglar tell a story? One of today’s most highly sought after speakers, this man captivates you with his true stories and anecdotes. His passion and enthusiasm are contagious as well which means he motivates his audience to action.
Audiences expect stories so if you aren’t using them, you should begin to do so. You might liken a good story to the icing on the cake; however, if not delivered with life and with emotion, then your story will not grab your listeners.
Do not be long-winded with your stories. Keep them short and to the point. If your audience begins to nod off, then your stories are trying their patience.
Always tell true stories. Do not fabricate. Getting caught in a lie on stage will nullify your credibility. Audiences deserve integrity and honesty from you as the speaker. Part of the success of great public speakers is that they become personal with their audiences – their stories are generally based on their own experiences or those of their clients. And, they are true stories.
If you are telling a story that you heard or read about, give credit to the writer or speaker of that story. There is nothing wrong with using other people’s experiences if they are relevant to your topic. In doing so, it shows that you have researched your topic. In addition, knowing your competition is to your advantage.
Use descriptive adjectives. If the story you are telling deals with extremely cold weather, for example, describe how cold it was. Just saying it was cold does not mean the same thing as frigid. Your audience needs to be able to grasp how the conditions were in order to understand the point you are trying to make.
I was out running in Central Park and it was cold is not the same thing as I was out running on icy paths in Central Park and it was bitterly cold.
Be selective in your use of stories. While your audience came to hear your presentation, they did not come just to hear you tell stories. James Malinchak, one of the top speakers on college campuses today, suggests one story per sub-topic. While this is good advice as a baseline, there is no hard and fast rule as to how many stories you should use. Usually my audience is the determining factor in which stories and how many I will use.
Practice by recording yourself and then study the playback. Your goal is to captivate your listeners in how you tell the story.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Voice Dynamic.
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