How to Tell a Story Without Losing Your Audience

Storytelling is about more than entertainment; indeed, storytelling is one of the most dated forms of communication amongst humans, and has been used for centuries to share knowledge, impart wisdom, and even help to strengthen characteristics like fairness, friendship, social bonding, and cooperation.

For businesses and individuals with something important to say, storytelling can be a key part of effective communication. But storytelling may not come naturally to you, and many struggle with telling a story without losing their audience. Here are some tips for storytelling while keeping your audience engaged and interested–

Why Does Good Storytelling Matter?

As explained by an article in Harvard Business Review, “business leaders ‘won’t’ be heard unless they’re telling stories.’” The article continues to quote Nick Morgan, author, and founder of Public Works, who says that while facts and figures may appear convincing, what really sticks in people’s minds are great stories. A great story has an emotional impact on a listener, making it more compelling. Stories are also used to build trust, captivate listeners, and persuade people to act.

Tips for Hooking and Engaging Your Audience

Telling a great story isn’t rocket science, although there are a few key components that a story–and the way in which it’s told–should include. Some tips for creating a great story are:

What is your story saying?

• Identify your audience. Before you start putting together your story, or even decide what story you want to tell, you need to identify your audience. You won’t be able to give your audience what they want if you don’t know who they are and what their needs are.

• Figure out your core message. Once you identify your audience, ask yourself what the ultimate message is that you’re hoping to impart. You should be able to name this in a single sentence, such as “Great achievement takes great sacrifice.”

• Focus on brevity. You might think that the best stories are those that delve into the details. However, if you don’t get to the point fast, you may lose the attention of your audience. You need to be able to communicate your point quickly–in many cases, you may only have two minutes or so to talk before your audience has lost attention.

• Have a great hook. You need to get your audience’s attention from the beginning, not once you’re halfway in. Which is why the first thing that you say should be compelling, interesting, or suspenseful to hook your audience from the get-go. For example, a TED Talk given by Jamie Oliver started with, “Sadly, in the next 18 minutes, while we chat, four Americans will be dead from the food that they eat.”

• Draw from personal experience. Finally, if you want to get your audience’s attention and tell something that they’ll care about hearing, draw from personal experience without making yourself the hero of the story. This can take practice, so be sure to write, rewrite, and review multiple times before telling.

Learn More About the Art of Great Storytelling

Storytelling may be an ancient form of communication, but it is also a critical skill in today’s business world. To learn more about how to tell a great story and what your story should include, as well as key tips for audience engagement, reach out to success guru Sheevaun Moran today, or attend one of her events in the future.

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