Scrap the jazzy PowerPoint slide transitions – when it comes to delivering a presentation at work, it’s your ability to tell a story that's the key to magnetic communication
As humans, we’ve been telling stories since the Stone Age – they’ve been a primary form of communication for us, especially with people’s love of books to engage and evoke emotion, with soap operas depicting characters’ daily lives and relatable problems, and cinema prompting us to laugh or feel inspired.
Why, then, do we so often abandon stories when at work or delivering a presentation, and rely on throwing facts on to PowerPoint slides instead?
Communication relies on people feeling engaged and wanting to listen. By telling a story, you are creating anticipation, and painting a picture in your listeners’ minds. Most of us will often relate more to a story, and it can help us to receive and understand messages.
With that in mind, here are some top tips for becoming a truly magnetic storyteller:
1. Show some emotion
Stories stir up emotions through their movement
At the heart of a good story lies emotion, but it has to be real. When listening to someone speak, who suddenly starts to laugh or cry, we’re likely to be affected by what they’re saying. They influence how we feel.
Stories stir up emotions through their movement. They are not static like bullet points. If you feel inspired and energised by your content, your audience will feel the same. It’s emotions that prompt us to act. By uncovering and revealing the emotion, you’ll build a relationship with the listeners.
2. Own your experience
When we present information, people often use ‘we’, which can feel like they don’t want to take responsibility for their opinion – so it’s important to define what you mean when you use this. But when you think about it, do you not find you relate to a story more if you hear about someone’s individual experiences? Using ‘I’ makes a story more personable and relatable.
3. Avoid the jargon
Last year, I found myself on the phone, drifting off while a solicitor was spilling out a trail of information I needed to know for purchasing a house. I put the phone down and realised I’d stopped listening halfway through.
In a world where we’re often overloaded with data, if someone is flooding us with words, industry jargon and information, it’s easy for our minds to wander. Being human – and being you – will impress people a lot more.
4. Use stories of people
One of the best ways to bring your stories to life is through threading people and images into your story. Rather than explaining what happened, try to describe. When you hear about a person or someone’s experiences, you’ll often find you relate more to the story being told.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously
This is a big area for me. I always say take your work seriously, but not yourself. If you can laugh at yourself, smile and enjoy your story, people will get to see character and personality, which is essential if you want people to sit up and listen.
Recently I was reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, where she discusses how she was initially perceived by the press. This prompted her to seek support for speaking to large audiences from a communication specialist called Stephanie Cutter. She said she was advised not to hold back on humour, to talk about what she loved, and it was OK to be herself.
She said she began to enjoy herself and “felt a new ease, a new ownership of my voice”, and consequently she invited a more positive response.
Discover more communication tips in Lindsay’s book ‘Speak Up & Be Heard’ (iElevate Educate, £10.99).