Storytelling has been used as a way to engage listeners for centuries. This art form is seen in the office, in personal life, and everywhere else. In the business world, storytelling is an engaging way to; improve workplace culture, engage potential customers, and personalize presentations. While storytelling may seem like an easy skill, there are always ways to improve. Here are five ways to become a better storyteller.
Remember to Have a Point
Outside of the office, it’s not uncommon to hear comedians or acquaintances tell stories that aren’t relevant. However, at the office, it is crucial to make sure that a story has a point before sharing it. While a pointless tale may not be the end of the world when talking with coworkers, it is important to ensure that you’re not wasting time.
Just because a story needs to have a relevant point doesn’t mean it can only be business-related. There are many benefits to sharing stories unrelated to the topic at hand. In most situations, this can help explain why things need to be done a particular way or show why one option may be better than the other. Regardless of what your story relates to, as long as the point is relevant, that’s all that matters.
The most important part of telling a story is making sure that your audience follows along. The last thing you would want to do is finish a story and have people confused about why you decided to share it. This is why it is essential to be specific when sharing a story. Be clear and address characters by name instead of relying heavily on pronouns when explaining a story. This helps your viewer build a concrete picture of what is happening in your tale.
One way to get in the habit of being specific while sharing stories is to practice storytelling in the third person. This can help you hear a story from your audience’s point of view to determine where you may be overexplaining and where you could benefit from more information. While it is essential to include details about specific scenarios, remember not to share client and coworker data. Unless they have explicitly given you permission to share their information, be considerate and think of others before sharing too much information.
Remember the Payoff
When sharing stories, it is essential to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about how they may be receiving the story. Imagine you were sitting in a meeting, and the speaker set up a funny situation while telling a story. As you sit there, waiting for the punchline, the speaker rambles on and on. The longer you wait, the more you think that this punchline has to be worth it to justify all this waiting. Finally, the speaker comes to a close, and the punchline is not that funny, and the payoff is nonexistent. How would you feel in that situation?
Some of you may have lived through that situation, and you understand how crucial it is not to be in that speaker’s shoes. Whenever you share a story, especially a longer one, you need to have a payoff. If the report is motivational, make sure you inspire the listeners! If the tale is comical, make sure your listeners see the humor and are amused! The best way to make a bad impression is to make someone feel like they have wasted their time paying attention to you.
Don’t Be the Hero
Have you ever known someone who only seems to talk about themselves? If you know someone like that, do you hang out with them? The answer to this question is probably no, and that makes sense. It can be exhausting spending time with someone who only ever sees themselves as the hero. While they may be nice, it can be hard to see that because they constantly remind others of how nice they are. Because of this, an engaging storyteller should be comfortable making others the hero of the story.
Flipping the story to shine the spotlight on others is a great way to make them feel appreciated and respected. Praising others for their hard work can bring a team closer and does more to show your character than speaking on your behalf. Additionally, sharing stories where you don’t look so good shows others that you are not perfect. Showing people that you aren’t perfect and that embarrassing things can happen to anyone helps people enjoy your company.
Tell the Truth
Telling the truth is an excellent habit to get in regardless of whether you are telling a story. In regards to storytelling, sometimes the truth can show a lack of experience in a field of study. While it may seem like fabricating your experience may be more helpful, being known as the individual/company that will always tell the truth has more benefits in the long run.
There may be situations where it seems like a small lie wouldn’t hurt anyone. Imagine you are in a sales pitch with a huge potential customer. Everything is going well, and they are about to sign on when they ask if you have any experience with a scenario specific to their business. You don’t. How harmless would it be to fabricate a small story about how you had a run-in with a similar situation a while back? It’s only one small story, and the payoff is a big client that could be a gamechanger for your business. Even in moments like these, telling the truth is more important than the immediate payoff.
It is important to remember that the truth always comes out in life and business. It may not be immediately, and it may take time, but one way or another, the truth emerges. You can either own it from day one or wait and see how significant the consequences are when they catch up to you.
Storytelling is a unique way to captivate your audience and engage your listeners. To learn more about what storytelling is and how you can incorporate it into your personal and business life, check out the Bigger Brains course, Storytelling in Business. This course is taught by national award-winning storyteller, Andy Offutt Irwin, and leadership expert, Kelly Vandever.