How to tell a story.
Everyone tells you that you must tell stories. But nobody ever tells you how–until now.
They say: tell stories. But most people get caught up trying to tell their stories. They use too many words, get lost while they’re telling their stories, lots of things go wrong. Sadly most people think it’s their fault and they’re just not good storytellers.
But storytelling is a skill that people learn and practice. It’s not a gift that most people were born with.
Storytelling is paramount.
We all know this. We are constantly reminded that to get the job done, give a good presentation, and really get your message across; we need to be great at storytelling.
If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone who’s really, really good at telling stories, you know how entertaining and irresistible he is. That’s because when that guy speaks, he has excellent communication skills and a strong and consistent verbal brand.
He conveys his ideas clearly; he’s confident about what he says; and he delivers his point in an interesting way using metaphors, anecdotes, and other verbal tricks to make it easy for people to understand him.
There's a strategy to storytelling.
These are the steps that great storytellers use to influence others.
- Record yourself telling a tale.
- Listen & remove redundancies and overly detailed information.
- Recreate your story on paper.
- Keep it concise & short.
- Practice a few times with your cat or dog before you tell others.
Remember, you won’t have to do this forever. Just about 10 or 15 times. And you’ll notice it gets easier each time. Let’s dive deeper:
So yes, everyone is telling you that storytelling is important but they never tell you how to do it! They tell you you must tell stories, but they don’t tell you how!
Either they don’t know themselves or they don’t want you to know.
There is a strategy to telling a great story and I’ve got it for you here.
How to tell a great story.
Experts are constantly advising us to tell a great story. But how do we become proficient at storytelling?
I train my clients to tell great stories & to have an arsenal of anecdotes. There are so many reasons for this. Not the least of which is that it causes people to open up to you.
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Experts are always telling you to ask people questions. Telling a good story makes people want to communicate with you. Peppering them with questions makes them clam up.
Storytelling is compelling.
That’s why storytelling is so compelling. When you tell great (short) stories, you compel people to tell a related story. Being a great storyteller is part of being a great leader.
When you meet someone for the first time, would you rather they ask you a bunch of mundane, hackneyed questions (like, “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, etc.) or entertain you with a fun, relate-able story? Instant relationship developer right there!
Great storytellers (and leaders) leave lasting impressions on people. When somebody comes away from a conversation with you feeling like they just chatted with a friend then that’s powerful stuff.
That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s all about developing strong, successful relationships in your professional & personal lives.
Here’s how I do it:
Design your story.
Take notes throughout your life of stories that are relevant to your message. Or just to things that make you have an emotion. Anecdotal tales are fantastic but not necessary.
Whether they’re able to take notes or not, I ask my clients to record themselves rambling on about their topic. I mean it. I want your first story to be a terrible representation of your message.
Just like when you’re in college & you know you have a paper due in 3 months, but you don’t work on it until the day before it’s due.
My advice to you is to start in September and shoot for a C paper. Write that in September. Then sit down again in October & make it a B. By November, you’ve got an A+.
Then we listen to the recording & pull out all the essential elements of the story. We organize them most effectively. You start with something that’s going to tie into the ending. To draw people in.
Focus on the ending.
Make sure your ending packs a punch. Don’t be compelled to say, “That’s my story.” or “That’s all I have to say about that.” Make sure you’ve weaved in your call-to-action.
If the ending comes full circle from your introduction that’s a win-win.
When Storytelling-Make it Short & Concise.
DO NOT USE TOO MANY DETAILS!
Much of the advice I’ve read out there recommends lots of details. I disagree wholeheartedly. When we listen to a story, we see the story in our mind how it makes us happy.
You don’t need to ramble on with too many details; we already see the story in our minds. Just leave a few details out, and they will come up with their own wonderful images.
Leave in all necessary elements, but don’t give too many details. You want your listener to be an active participant in the story & letting them draw their own picture is critical. It allows them to ask important questions.
These techniques apply to interviews, meetings with your boss, team, venture capitalists, small talk, everyone who needs to see things your way. In all communicative situations, you should have remarkable stories.
Boring people to tears is never a good communication skill to practice. Always leave your listeners wanting more from you. A good anecdote is 15-45 seconds. Stories for presentations can be a bit longer.
I like the TEDx 15 minutes. If you can pack a punch in 10 or 15 minutes, you’re doing yourself & your listeners a considerable favor.