The Importance Of Storytelling For Public Speakers

If you want to deliver a great speech at your next business event, then you are going to need to learn the art of storytelling. Are fantastic tales something only for children? Not necessarily. Look at the blockbuster movies that entertain millions of people. Harry Potter, Titanic, Star Wars and all your favorite motion pictures are accounts of what was, what is, or what could be. We love to listen to tales that help us understand our world, and give us clear directions to reach our dreams.

This poetic art precedes the written word. For thousands of years, our forefathers wove heroic legends explaining their origins and their survival. Many cultures are aware of their unique oral traditions that shed light on their history and development. 

The Aborigines of Australia have their ‘Dreaming’; Greeks and other European civilizations look back at their larger-than-life saga and legends. In Asia we still enjoy many varieties like hand-puppets, shadow puppets, dances and plays that narrate myths like the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

In Indonesia, a ‘dalang’ is a puppeteer and is still revered by many people. The ‘dalang’ has magical powers. With his knowledge and clever use of words, experiences, jokes and even foolishness he takes his audience on classic journeys of how courage, patience and willpower can overcome defeat. He will paint fantastic possibilities in his listeners mind, so that they have hope and can live a better life.

You too can become an admired ‘dalang’, a great story teller, as long as you are willing to learn the necessary techniques and practice for speaking in public. As you live your life, work, learn and have fun, you experience many big and small incidents that shape you. Are you aware and in the moment to register these lessons and experiences? There is absolutely no reason anybody can say: “Nothing ever happens to me that would be of interest to others!” So what are important ingredients for successful story telling?

1. Dialogue

In order to let your audience experience the happenings in real time, use dialogues” says John Rogan of Motivational Speakers. “That’s when you can express the mind-set of the people involved in the narrative. You can show their real emotions with your face and body, which will draw your audience into the story. Be sure to use appropriate vocal variety for an even greater impact.”

Dialogues can be between:

  • Two or more people
  • Speaker talking or thinking to him/herself
  • Speaker with the audience
  • Speaker with animals or objects (car, computer etc.)

2. Characters

Select the people in your story carefully. Mention only the absolutely necessary persons that are important to your plot and give each one a name and an attribute; so that your listeners easily understand who is doing what and when.

3. Make a Point

Teach a life lesson, and give some advice or hope” says Chris Adams of Motivation Ping. “Make sure your audience understands clearly why you tell this particular story at this point of your presentation. Never ever assume, they automatically understand your conclusion. Give your listeners clear statements to what you mean or want them to understand.”

4. Pause

Pausing is a vital element in storytelling. Before you get to the climax of your account be sure to pause, so as to make your audience anticipate your next words. Give your audience the chance to digest fully all the dialogues, the words and non verbal communication. Don’t be afraid of silence at appropriate spots.

A good story is woven like a good quality piece of handmade cloth. The pattern is clearly visible and can be understood in an instant by anybody just like this beautiful hand woven piece on this page, a ‘Ships Cloth’ from Sumatra. Many stories though are unclear, the reason to tell it, the lesson to be learned are often muddled, just like a bad undistinguishable pattern in a cheap cloth.

Great speakers and sales people know the power of storytelling. They learn and practice this easy and very effective form of transmitting information in an entertaining way. They utilize all the emotional tools necessary to take their audience on a touching journey and help their listeners solve problems. “Tell a story and sell a point!” is a saying by Craig Valentine, World Class Speaking and master in story telling. Master this craft and your speaking will never be the same again!

Written by