Have you every listened to a story and thought “That’s a great story, but…..what’s the point?” Recently I attended a Toastmasters District speech contest. Some well-told and engaging stories were shared. However, at the conclusion of most speeches, I was left with two questions… 1) What’s the point? and 2) Why should I care?
Far too often, presenters leave their audiences with these two questions. The stories may be interesting, but there is no powerful walk-away message for the listener. When this happens, stories and speakers are quickly forgotten. This is good for you because, if you create a meaningful and memorable point to your stories, you can stand out from the crowd.
Remember this critical point: Audiences have short attention spans and are under immense time pressure. They need to know as quickly as possible why to listen to you. Before you can stand out from other presenters, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Answer the question “Do my stories have a useful point, or am I simply entertaining myself?” When I asked this question, I didn’t like the answer. However, it forced me to look outside myself and look for messages that would benefit an audience.
When coaching, one of the first questions I now ask is… “Why THIS story? Does it support your main point?” followed by “Why should the audience care?” Before you invest time to create a presentation, answer these questions. Your responses will serve as an anchor for your speech. Each aspect of the story can be measured against this anchor. If it doesn’t support or add to your main point, leave it out. Carefully scrutinizing each aspect of your story to insure it supports your main message will make for a leaner, more impactful speech, one that your audience will remember long after you walk off stage.