Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Billy Graham—just to name a few—were great story tellers. To illustrate or prove a point, experienced and effective speakers tell stories.
Learn to tell stories. Here are some criteria to do this well. Begin your story by answering the “W” questions. Those include answers to Who, What, When, Where, Why. By answering these questions you will give the audience context and chronology to understand and be impacted by the story. A story is simply a narrative about a connected series of events. The “W”s are critical to create a story.
Be animated in telling the story. Become a part of the story. Show what happened with gestures and facial expression. Give your audience the appropriate emotional level by the tone of your voice. Let the audience know the important aspects by punching out key words in the drama, lower your voice, or include a dramatic pause. Show dialogue by changing voice tone as you go from one story character to another.
Personalize when possible. Don’t use the third person pronoun “he,” “she,” or “they.” Name people, streets, animals, and cities even if your audience members are not familiar with the names. This humanizes the story and audiences can relate better. Our family didn’t just have a small dog, we had Sebastian, the miniature schnauzer who tried to terrorize the neighborhood with a high squeaky bark.
Have a sense of direction in telling the story. Remove unnecessary information. Be concise. A general rule is to keep your story under two minutes. If you can’t do it in around two minutes, you probably need to revise some more.
Practice the story until you can tell it with confidence and enthusiasm. Finally, state your point and make sure it is relevant to the story.
What names of great story tellers would you add to this list?