There is Power in Storytelling.
By now, most people know this. However, the number of times storytelling is used – especially in Business – is still far below the number of times storytelling should be used to make your messages stick and sell.
Most people still stray from using stories during their presentations. There are some that believe stories cannot be added effectively to certain topics, and so they leave them out, resulting in purely technical talks. Many believe that as long as the content is presented, stories are not essential.
However, the truth is that we remember points and content MORE when it is EMOTIONALLY CHARGED. Stories are like adding a battery to a toy or device – it brings your content to LIFE.
The key to Storytelling for Business Presentations or Pitches is to ensure that you tell the RIGHT story for your audience. Story for story sake is not the goal. Story to back up and drive home your points is what makes the difference.
Here are 5 steps to Storytelling in Business:
STEP #1: Find out what they want
What does your client or audience want? For example, if you are giving a pitch, you can safely assume that your audience – Investors – want to know if they will receive a good return on their investment in you. Whatever you are speaking on, find out what your audience wants. Are they employees that want to find out how to improve their performance? Are they salespeople that want to have more confidence during their sales pitches? Are they managers that want to inspire their employees? Ask around. Do your research. Find out what they want.
STEP #2: Find out what they REALLY want
If you are in a relationship, chances are you have talked to your significant other, and they told you about something they wanted. However, after digging a bit deeper, you found out that there was something else they REALLY desired. For example, my wife may say she wants to watch a certain movie with me, when really she just wants me to spend time with her. Your child may ask you to drop them to school, but they may really just want to tell you something on the drive. We often have spoken desires, then underlying ones that drive them. Those underlying desires are the ones that REALLY motivate us.
Ask more questions. Delve deeper. Ask “Why” a few more times. You may be surprised that what you thought they wanted may just have been the surface desire. Dig for more. You may find that the actual need that you should speak about is different than what you thought it was.
STEP #3: Break it down to the BASE need
In her book, The Message of You, Judy Carter talks about base needs that we all have. There are 3 needs that we all desire to fill, and when you can speak about a topic that meets one of the following three, you WILL connect.
The 3 needs are:
What do you plan to talk about? What is your solution? Does it address one of the 3 Base Needs? I hope so if you want to connect and create a desire in your audience to use your solution.
STEP #4: Tell a “Comparison Chronicle”
Is there a personal story that you can tell where you satisfied that same need (from Step #3)? Did you go through a struggle to get there? Was there a lesson that you had to learn that resulted in you meeting the same need that your audience is struggling with? Tell that story.
I recently attended a workshop in which a stat was revealed that we remember fact encompassed stories 22x more than we remember the actual fact! If that doesn't peak your interest and make you want to lace your presentations with stories, then nothing will!
Bonus Tip: Make the “Lesson Lender” similar to your audience! For example, if I am speaking to a group of senior citizens, I will try find a story in which a senior citizen taught ME my lesson! I once spoke to a crowd where my mother was the “hero” of my story, and the INSTANT connection with the mothers in the crowd was palpable!!
STEP #5: Hammer the Nail
It may seem obvious to you. Your audience may know it. But tell them anyways.
When your “Comparison Chronicle” story is over, tell your audience how it compares to their struggle. Give them a one line message that sums up your story, while still giving them the take home message that applies to them and meets their base need. There is a reason that the old saying says “Tell them what you're going to tell them, Tell them, then Tell them what you told them.”
As speakers, we are “Professional Reminders”. Find out what your audience needs, then really needs. Break it down to the base need, tell a story that drives the point home, then hammer the nail with your take home message and remind them how it relates to THEIR problems.
Storytelling belongs in Business and it's not going anywhere. Stories have been here since the beginning of time, and they remain the most powerful method by which to connect.
Kwesi Millington helps speakers to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.