What’s Your Story

To sell a story, it is crucial that you know the story inside out.

20190720_114843Storytelling is as old as life itself. It has been a form of communication since the beginning of time. Through our oral traditions, many stories have been preserved, retold, and sold through different mediums. Some stories have survived many generations and will continue to survive as long as we value the art of creating and telling stories. Stories may serve many purposes in speech. I once heard it said al long time ago, that the secret to developing a speech is to make a point then tell a story. Make another point, tell another story. Stories help your audience visualize and make a connection with your point. Telling a story to make your point can also help you, the speaker overcome resistance, explain difficult concepts, or teach valuable lessons.

To sell a story, it is crucial that you know the story inside out. You should be able to pick up the story from any point in the narrative to proceed seamlessly. When you can say with confidence I know my story, that confidence gives you the speaker the freedom to transport your audience back to a time and place. The speaker can then feel free to make an emotional connection with the audience and the story. That approach is one proven way to bring your spoken words to life by being in the moment as you sell the story.

Stories can help you keep your audience’s attention. Activity is one of the critical factors simply because ideas that move tend to attract attention. Always try to keep your story moving forward.  Focus on the here and now. Try to not get stuck in the past. As you move from past to present and back, use movement or positions on the stage to help your audience follow your story. Another sure way to reinforce your connection with any audience is by taking a familiar concept and presenting it abstractly or unusually. Present the idea in a manner to which your audience can relate.

Conflict and suspense are also useful techniques to hold your audience attention. Introduce your conflict and suspense early in the speech. Light a fire and build the tensions to a climax through to the end of your speech. Break up the tension with bits of humor. Humor allows your audience to participate as you speak. The laughter humor generates is often the pause that refreshes for both speaker and audience. Wherever possible, use dialogue. In that conversational style, you will find many opportunities to add fun to your speaking. Create vivid images with words to visualize the scene you are creating. If you can make your audience see it, they are more inclined to believe it.

Leaving your audience satisfied is the key to receiving a thunderous round of applause. Avoid saying the dreaded, in summary. Use the good old tried and proven “tell your audience what you told them” in a manner that does not appear to be you repeating yourself. Leave with a call to action. Close with some reference to your opening and finally add a moment of silence to send your message as you end your speech. These are a few proven techniques that are known to work. Develop your own one day you too would be known as a great contributor to the art of storytelling and who knows, even story selling.

Author: HenryOMiller

Henry joined Toastmasters in 1997. He is presently a member of 4 Toastmasters clubs; two in Santa Cruz and two in San Jose. He is a DTM-4. Henry is an executive speech coach, humorist, and speechwriter. He is also a musician and a lyricist​ whose speechwriting approach is similar to his approach to songwriting.

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