What’s the story?

Make a point, tell a story; tell a story, make a point. That’s an easy enough mantra to follow in speeches and presentations, but what kind of story should you tell?

The three factors that work in story telling are:

1. They illustrate the point and are easy to understand and remember
2. We are all conditioned, from childhood, to like stories
3. They can connect with your listeners’ backgrounds

The first two are fairly obvious, but the third one often surprises people when I raise it during my training courses. Backgrounds?

Let’s take an extreme example, just to make the point. Suppose you are pitching to the owner of a small business. Did you stop to consider why he started that business? One such small business owner told me, only the other day, “I started this business because no one would give me a job.”

Another (geeky) micro business owner told me his technical expertise is such that he is always in demand, and he doesn’t have to market himself.

For people like them, you may want to avoid stories about gregarious situations and talk, instead, about self sufficiency and the virtues of independence. Talk about the injustice of bureaucracy and the triumph of the ‘small’ over the ‘large’.

At the same time, be aware of your own background story, and avoid pleading your own position. Remember, the main purpose of the story is to advance your business case, not to entertain or to beat the drum of self interest.

Think about how movies can touch your own emotions. That’s the power of story telling. Go ye and do likewise.

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Filed under Marketing, public speaking, speaking

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