Every professional speaker has a signature story. A story that has been carefully crafted, rehearsed countless times and identifies the speaker’s main content.
You as a speaking professional should have a story for your expertise. If in your company, you are the expert in customer service, a story told by you can either illustrate the best of customer service or the worst. Each story is a teaching tool to your associates.
Spend time looking at your everyday events that will illuminate all sides of your expertise. Starting crafting several stories and begin to focus on one or two key stories. A story can always be pushed aside when events happen that illustrate better your content.
Take classes in storytelling. Read classic novels and try to identify the key features that makes the story great.
Once you have that story, don’t be reluctant to use it in your company meetings. Remember you are the expert!
One common question every comedian is asked, “Where do you get your material?” The answer is always same, “Everyday experiences.”
One great source of stories for any speaker is their own family history. We all have stories that we can tell to illustrate any point we want to make.
The problem is that you as the speaker know the story intimately while the audience knows nothing of the people or the circumstances surrounding the story. Your difficulty comes from trying to put in enough details to tell the story but not too many details. This is where revision and editing are important. It is best to practice your story in front of another person and have that person judge your story; too many details or too few. Your evaluator can also tell you which parts of the story are significant to your audience.
Start is by listing your family stories in a journal. Write down what you remember about the people, places and situations. Then begin to edit and revise.
One great way to make a point to a very adult audience is to tell a kid’s story. Not just any kid’s story but something that happened to you! Every adult has started as a child. We all experience the FEAR of learning how to ride a bike or trying something new. Or we had that special relative or teacher who had that profound effect on our lives. We have all had that first day of school and how we felt.
The problem is that we have forgotten those child moments and it is our job as speakers to remind our audience. By telling the audience on how specific events, relatives or teacher taught us as a child, your audience will then apply this information to their own life. According to Professor Stone, family stories tell us, “who we are and how we got that way.”
Start with your own life. Begin writing in a journal about your own life stories. Remember, the more you write, the more you will remember.
One problem is that you know your family story better than your audience. So you must practice, edit, revise and practice again. Practice your story in front of someone and ask their impression. You might be surprise as to what they see.
So…let me tell you a story when I was a kid.
Any story told to an audience involves a three way relationship between the speaker, the audience and the story. Think of this as a triangle with each corner representing an element of this relationship. None of the corners are independent because each part is connected.
When you tell a story to an audience, you are making a connection to your audience. The audience in turn is making a connection back to you, the speaker, because of the story. It is very important to ask yourself if your story is truly making that connection. Some stories are better for one audience than for another. You as a speaker have choices in what story you tell and in how you tell this story. Many people think that telling a story is a fixed process. However because you have a choice in telling the story, the process is fluid. You must spend time in the practice of telling your story. You have to look at it from all angles. You must realize that telling a story must never be an accident but must always be something that is planned exactly in order to gain the power of storytelling.