Today a client and I were discussing technical and strategic presentations. She had recently heard a very good presentation at a conference in Australia. Afterwards she found herself working out what made the communication so good, because the presenter wasn’t charismatic and she wasn’t particularly funny. Although the presenter did have excellent visuals, it sounded like her very human story was what made it special. One important aspect of the story was that the woman told about her failures and moments when she felt daunted, as well as talking about her successes with the project.
Audiences desire to connect with a speaker, and sharing our weaknesses as well as our strengths can build a very human connection.
Don’t think that your story has to be very dramatic and set on an Mount Everest type of scale. Sometimes the very ordinary human tales can be powerful for a group. I was practising story telling with a group of young military people a while ago. Some of their stories were set in exotic locations, others were tales of human courage, but the most effective story was a very simple one about the young recruit going home after her first three months of army training and realising she had outgrown her no-hoper mates.
Write your stories down, you never know when they will be useful. There’s a delightful post about the value of working on the wording of your stories at: iggypintardo’s posterous
You can help your story-telling ability by collecting four different types:
- Successes: We all like to be associated with success
- Failures: This creates real human sharing and can lead to what you learnt
- Funny stories: When an audience laughs they build a sense of belonging in that group
- Legends: These provide a very attractive shortcut to meaning. legends can be true legends, urban legends or stories about famous people that have become apocryphal.
Good luck with using your own life to source transformational stories.