“Stories are the frosting on the cake not the cake ITSELF.’’ – DALE CARNEGIE
Stories are very powerful and emotional. When you connect to your audience emotionally they’ll connect with your ideas, buy your products, and do whatever you ask them to do.
Stories are the oldest form of communication. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ used stories and parables to influence, motivate and persuade people about his ideas and concepts of the potency of humanity and how that God now lives in man. Today, billions of men and women call Jesus their Lord and Saviour.
Let’s see one of his stories (recorded in Luke Chapter 15) and the lesson behind it:
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
This is the story of the prodigal son, and it speaks about: Unconditional love, forgiveness, repentance, self discovery, fatherhood, family life, wrong choices and decisions.
A lot of people know that story even those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ, this is because the lesson applies to all of humanity regardless of skin colour, religion, or gender.
John Kotter, an organisational change expert, writes: “Neurologists say that our brains are programmed much more for stories than for abstract ideas. Tales with a little drama are remembered far longer than any slide crammed with analytics.”
In your speech, weave a story around your key points. People might not remember the statistics you gave about poverty, but they’ll remember the story you told about how you were poor and literarily eating from the dust bin and how a good fellow saw you, gave you an inspirational book to read that changed your life and now you give talks to inspire other people to dream.
HOW TO TELL A STORY
- Be descriptive; Engage the senses of your audience members by telling a story.
- Physiology: Let your body also tell what your words are saying.
- Every story should have a villain and a hero: For example, in the above rags to riches story I just told, poverty is the villain and success is the hero.
- Highlight the lesson in the story for the audience.
EFFECTS OF STORYTELLING ON YOUR AUDIENCE
- It keeps their attention
- It makes your key points easier to remember
- It makes the audience have empathy for the speaker
- It brings out the common humanity between the speaker and the audience so that the audience members know that the speaker is also going through (or has been through) what they are going through.
- It helps the speaker connect emotionally with the audience.
USE SHORT VIDEO CLIPS
I used a clip from the movie ‘Courageous’ to teach integrity to some doctors and nurses during a talk I gave on Customer Service and they were really inspired.
THE BENEFITS OF USING SHORT VIDEO CLIPS
- It evokes emotions of hope, love, trust, fear etc, depending on the type of emotion you want to generate. People take more emotional decisions than logical ones.
- Short video clips engender conversation and the sharing of ideas in class.
- It is a creative way to get your point a
COLLECT, STORE, AND DEPLOY STORIES
To be a master storyteller you must be a collector of relevant stories. There are stories everywhere these days, from newspapers to blogs to conversations in the office and even personal stories, which are even more powerful. Just become aware and look out for stories and they’ll come to you because when the student is ready the teacher will show up.