Captivate with Stories

After a presentation, 63% of attendees remembered the stories, only 5% remembered information presented without the benefit of an illustrating story. Connecting information to a story makes that information stick. You must learn to become storytellers if you wish to be successful in any business. Your brand is your identity. Your stories illustrate and underscore your identity.

At Captivating, our tagline is “What Are You Saying?” because what you say IS our business. What you say. how you say it, and why, are the keys to your success in business We want to understand your WHY so that we can help you with the WHAT and ‘HOW and that’s WHEN the magic happens.

People are just naturally hot-wired to respond to stories. This is why we flock to movies, buy books, and watch television. If you pay attention you will notice that some of the best conversations happen between people who are telling each other stories.There is an art to great storytelling, and some people seem to be naturals, but this not just some special talent reserved for the lucky few. The good news is that anyone can master the art of storytelling. Once you have, you will immediately become more captivating.

There are simple components that will make your speech as interesting and attention-grabbing as any Hollywood blockbuster. A good story holds the listeners’ interest, builds feelings of connection between narrator and audience, and provides a satisfying conclusion

In other words, these are the three ingredients to a good story

  • Holds Interest
  • Builds Connection
  • Provides a Satisfying Conclusion.

I’ve got plenty of advice for mastering each of the three ingredients. Let me dive in and share a few!

Start With A Hook: Start your story with the most interesting thing about it, but don’t give away the ending! You want to grab your audience right away and keep them listening.

Have A Point: Try to keep in your mind WHY you are talking. Have notes to keep you on track so that you don’t go off on a tangent.

Show, Don’t Tell: Having visual aids is a great way to keep your audience hooked. Use them! If you don’t, create the movie in their mind using as many of the senses as possible. 

Use Vivid Details, Not Lots Of Facts: You know that you yourself lose interest when someone starts droning on with a lot of statistics. The best way to keep an audience’s attention is to give them vivid details, choosing high points.

Build A Connection: Make yourself relatable to your audience. Pay attention to what they seem most interested in, and make it personal by adding little tidbits about yourself. Which leads to my next point…

Tell Personal Stories, But Cautiously: You want to be a relatable storyteller. What you DON’T want is to be a braggart. Telling stories about ways that you may have screwed up is just as important as highlighting your successes; it makes you more human to your audience. That’s why we use the MESS to MESSAGE template at Captivating. It’s how you can write a motivational speech in just a few minutes. 

Share Firsthand Thoughts & Feelings: You want to let people know what you thought and what you went through to get where you are. They’re probably in that place right now.

Provide A Satisfying Conclusion: This speaks for itself. Let your audience know that things can be awesome.

When You’re Finished, Stop: Don’t ad lib. Just finish. Way too many speakers talk past the close, which means they add on unnecessary and superfluous information or over-explain. Let the story speak for itself. Allow people to fill in the gaps. Take the following story as an example:

The Scorpion and The Frog

A frog is sunning himself on a rock next to a river when a scorpion approaches. The frog instinctively recoils because the scorpion is a ruthless enemy. The scorpion begs the frog to carry him across a river saying, “Please help me. I need to get to the other side of the river. My babies are waiting for me and the branch I crossed has been washed away.” The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, and the scorpion seeing the indecision on the frog’s face, reassures him, “Why would I do sting you? That would be really dumb. We’d both drown and I’d never get to see my poor babies.” This makes a lot of sense to the frog who then agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion raises her tail and plunges her stinger into the back of the frog. In shock and with his dying breath, the frog calls out, “Why?” and the Scorpion replies, “I’m so sorry. I just can’t help it. It’s my nature!”

Do you need to explain the meaning of this story? What does it mean to you?

Use the story as the springboard for your message or use it to way to complete your message. Say, “Do you have any scorpions in your life?…..” etc. Or conclude, “That’s when I learned not to expect someone to act in contradiction to their nature. To illustrate, let me share this well-known fable…..” etc.

Even if you don’t know how to tell a story, you can start by following this three-step formula:

  • My Mistake (Describe a time when you messed up in vivid, preferably humorous detail)
  • What I learned
  • Message (What’s in it for the audience?)

I will share more about the MESS to MESSAGE template in a future blog.

You must practice storytelling. Simply start telling stories and learn to be observant and gauge your audience’s response. Did they laugh? Were you able to evoke emotion? Try telling the story in different ways and test your audience’s response and then adjust. Ask for feedback and keep on adjusting until you have a great story. All great storytellers do this.

Most importantly, have fun because if you have fun, your audience does too!

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