You’re sharing your best story with an audience. You reach a key moment in the narrative, deliver the line and… there’s that magical moment when you and the audience sync perfectly. The moment creates a powerful and lasting impression.
The Ideal World Of Storytelling
Your message is heard and felt and, your audience is completely in sync with you. If this happens, then you’ve achieved the pinnacle of speaking success.
But, what happens when a part of your story is so specific to a certain experience or demographic that not everyone gets it?
Don’t you risk losing a part of your audience?
Yes, and that’s why we have to be careful not to push some of our listeners out of the narrative. There’s a fine line, and staying true to our stories, and including all of our listeners.
The Magic Of Audience Co-creation
Recently, I experienced this during a presentation by a speaker named Alyson. She was telling us a childhood story about the day, when she was seven years, old and excitedly, getting ready for school picture day. She was in the bathroom, and on the spur the moment, decided to use dry mousse in her hair to make it look as good as possible.
Right then, the women in the room reacted with gasps, a few “Oh nos”, and knowing laughter.
All of the men in the room didn’t have a reaction. But, when I heard the women’s reaction, I knew this probably wasn’t going to end well.
Alyson confirmed this when she revealed the disastrous outcome.
After reflecting on this experience, it occurred to me that we the storytellers don’t always have to fill in the details of our experiences. Sometimes our audience can do it for us.
Sometimes, it’s effective to leave gaps in our stories. In doing so, we invite our audience to fill in the blanks with their own knowledge and experiences. This transforms them into co-creators of the narrative. When they can participate like this, our story becomes their story. This creates a deep emotional bond with them.
My friend Stephanie, who is a professional comedian, confirmed this technique. She has a bit about being old enough that she remembers the days when professors would post test results on classroom doors not with our names, but with our Social Security numbers. The more “experienced” members of the audience always laugh; the younger members are horrified at first, and then catch on to the humor of the situation.
As you are crafting your next story, ask yourself, “Where can I give a specific detail that some of the audience will get? Will their reaction be strong enough to fill in the blanks for the rest of the people in the room?”
If you’d like help crafting your stories for more audience involvement, schedule time to talk with Michael: https://calendly.com/speakingcpr/30-minute-call.