The simple truth is no one likes to feel they are being sold but everybody loves a story.
What is Hollywood? Hollywood is a billion dollar a year industry. It is an industry of storytelling. The only difference in their stories is that they have million dollar special effect budgets. Think about a fairy tale. You have been read a fairy tale to go to sleep as a child. You read a fairy tale. What is a fairy tale if not a story? Parents and grandparents have read bedtime stories to their children and grandchildren for centuries and they have done it without special effects. The heart of any story is just that – a good story.
The difference in using it in communication whether it is a speech, a presentation, an email; the difference is that it is the speaker’s responsibility to connect the dots for the audience. It is not the audience’s responsibility to understand why you as the speaker are telling the story. Why you are telling the story and how the story helps them is the job of the speaker to connect those dots. Audiences are, as I like to say, lazy. They are lazy and they are selfish, kind of like your teenage children, so you have to connect the dots for them and you need to do it succinctly.
If a speech is 15 minutes the story cannot take 12 minutes. At its core a speech is a mathematical formula. Now, I’m not good at numbers but do the math. If the intro is 15% of the speech and the conclusion is 15% of the speech then the body is 70%. If you have three main points, let’s say each main point is 20% and you have time for transitions wherever you put that story it has to fit into that timeframe. So if you are speaking for 15 minutes and your intro is three minutes and your story is part of the intro that story has to be told in less than three minutes. You cannot take 12 minutes of a 15-minute speech to tell a story. So you have to learn to be a good storyteller and a math genius.
My best clients have learned how to tell a story, how to succinctly carve out the essence of the story that will help the audience and connect the dots for them, how that story helps move their agenda forward.
As a leader what are you doing to tell a story concisely to move your agenda forward?