3 Keys to Crafting Stories People WANT To Hear
Maybe it’s because of the work I do — presentation skills and storytelling coaching — but it feels like everywhere I look, someone is promoting storytelling. Organizations like TED and TEDx are built upon the power of memorable stories.
In full transparency, for years I have also endorsed this idea.
Because we are storytelling creatures, it’s true that they can be the best way to connect people. But, there’s a problem. So many people are telling stories just to tell them that most have no meaning and don’t create any type of bond with the listener. Poorly constructed narratives can backfire and make the storyteller come across as egocentric or narcissistic.
Therefore, if you want to be seen as a persuasive, compelling, or charismatic communicator, heed these words:
Stop Telling Just Any Story
Instead, learn how to use the keys to create stories that capture people’s attention, compel them to want to hear more, and inspire them to take action.
There are many key elements to crafting a story that resonates with people. Before you write your narrative there are three important questions to answer:
- What is the problem you want to solve?
- What is your main message?
- What do you want people to Think, Feel, or Do differently after they’ve heard your story?
What is the problem you want to solve?
Be specific about the problem you’re describing and more specific with your answer. For instance, consider an executive business coach working with an experienced financial advisor in the middle of a pandemic. What problems does this planner face?
There are many, but one could be her mindset. Is she caught up in all of the news about the pandemic and the whipsaw activity of the investment markets? Is this creating fear, which is causing her to stop talking with existing clients and prospects?
If so, the stories the coach tells should be focused on other planners who have dealt with turbulent times. The Great Recession of 2008 and the dot.com bust of 2001 are recent enough that they provide great lessons that can benefit the listener.
What is your main message?
It’s vital that you’re clear about your main point. Ideally, this is summed up in one sentence with fewer than ten words. The coach in the example above could say, “Crisis isn’t permanent. Fear doesn’t have to be, either.’ The shorter the phrase, the more memorable it is.
It’s not easy to create these brief messages. But, they’re worth the effort because they leave a lasting impact and help you stay in the mind of the listener.
What do you want people to Think, Feel, or Do?
This is the most important of the questions. It addresses the most overlooked aspect of presentations — a specific Call-to-Action. Too many people deliver stories without intentional action for the audience.
One of the biggest misconceptions about business stories is that they should make people feel better or pump them up and get them excited. I have no problem with energizing or inspiring your listener, but, if your aim is to make them feel better, you’re making a mistake!
Whether you’re a leader, sales professional, or speaker the reason people come to you is that they have a problem they want to be fixed. At the same time, they’re inherently stuck in a comfort zone. This sounds contradictory but stick with me.
Get Them Out of Their Comfort Zone
According to High-Performance expert Paul Rulkens, 95% of our lives are spent in auto-pilot mode. Even when we’re struggling with problems (money, career, relationships) we tend to get comfortable in them because it takes a lot of brain-power and energy to change. And that’s exhausting.
So, almost everyone chooses to stay in that ‘uncomfortable-comfort’ zone.
What does this have to do with you as a storyteller?
Your story has to make them feel the discomfort of staying in their current situation. It must disturb them so they feel uncomfortable enough to take new action to improve their situation. Your job is to inspire them to change the way they think or feel or take action to make their problem go away.
Hopefully, by this point, you understand why telling a vague narrative will not leave a lasting impact on your next audience or prospective client. People are bombarded every minute with hackneyed marketing messages, boring ads, and forgettable stories. If you want your message to rise above the noise and stick in the minds of your audience, stop telling just any story. Become intentional.
And leave a lasting impact.
Want to Take Your Storytelling Skills to a New Level?
Every week, you’ll receive a five-minute audio that offers insight into business storytelling. Each tip builds upon previous lessons. The idea behind this is to consistently build your storytelling skills. They are available at no-cost and no-obligation.
To sign-up for them, click here: https://speakingcpr.com/52-storytelling-tips/.
Feel free to pass these on to anyone else you believe can benefit.