Stories Which Don’t Get Results
Jim had finished giving his big presentation. He’d worked hard writing it, practicing it, getting feedback, and making changes.
One of the suggestions he received was, “Jim, you need more stories and fewer slides.”
That made sense to him. so he included stories about some of his experiences.
But, when his presentation ended, he got no response. No one asked for his business card or to set up a one-to-one conversation.
He had accepted this speaking opportunity thinking he’d get meetings with prospective new clients.
And now he is doubting his abilities as a speaker and the benefits of using stories in his presentations to attract new clients.
Jim is Not Alone
This is not uncommon. Storytelling has become a popular subject in the business world, and people are often told, “human beings are wired for stories so get out there and tell some.”
This sounds good, but the problem Jim had is that the same people who are promoting this idea are leaving out the answer to one important question…
How do you effectively tell stories?
This post isn’t meant to give you all the answers to this question. But, I have one suggestion to transform dull stories into entertaining experiences…
Use character dialogue to make your listeners feel they’re part of your story.
Most people tell stories in “reporter mode.” This means I’ll tell you the facts, like this…
“Robert and Sheila are talking to a prospective financial planner and sharing their fears. They have a lot of concerns about retirement and educating their children. Their money concerns are putting a lot of strain on their marriage.”
When you read that, did you have an emotional reaction to it?
When I ask this question in workshops the answer is typically, “no.”
A Better Way to Connect With Your Listeners
Instead of reporting the facts and labeling emotions, try this method…
“Robert and Sheila are sitting in the office of a prospective financial planner. Sheila says, ‘We’re here because we’re scared to death. It’s always been our dream to educate our two daughters at a prestigious school and retire in California to be closer to our families. But, when Rober lost his job, everything changed.”
“Robert interrupts and says, ‘After my layoff, I took a huge pay cut when I accepted that new job in 2020. Sheila and I are going through a tough time because money is a touchy subject. We’ve been arguing a lot about this. I want to provide for my family and give my girls the best possible education and help us get to California, but it’s really tough right now. I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”
Can you see and feel the difference in this approach?
In just a few short sentences, you gain insight into what each of the characters is feeling. You might not have experienced that specific situation, but aren’t their feelings relatable?
When you hear phrases like, “we are scared to death,” “we’ve been arguing about this,” and “it’s really tough right now” do you feel any type of connection with these characters?
In my workshops, the answer is always “yes.”
This is just a quick snippet of what dialogue can do for you.
The Most Impactful Type of Dialogue
An even more impactful type is internal dialogue. When we can hear the thoughts of your characters, we get great insight into their emotional state. And this creates a deeper connection with them.
Again, most people describe their emotions rather than share them with us.
Which of these creates a greater reaction in you…
“Sitting in that car, I had a lot of fear.”
“Sitting in that car, I thought, “What am I doing here? This is a mistake! I’m crazy to think I could do this. I’m gonna get hurt”
The first example is labeling my emotion, the second enables you to hear specific fears I’m experiencing.
And that’s where the connection with the listener is made.
If you want to transform your stories from dull to memorable, use character dialogue, especially internal, and watch your listener interest and reaction dramatically increase.
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