Being able to weave stories into your sales and idea pitches is a powerful skill when it comes to influencing others. Use these tips for integrating stories into your work presentations:
- Create a structure. Start by knowing what you want your audience to take away from the story. Then create a beginning, middle and end that reinforce that message. If one of those elements is missing, people will be confused or won’t understand the point of the story.
- Keep it short. Limit your stories to 3-5 minutes to keep busy or distracted people engaged in your content.
- Focus on a challenge or conflict. Establish a hero who will face a problem and either come out on top or learn a very important lesson after going through the hardship. Present the ups and downs the hero faces along the way to keep people interested.
- Create imagery. Use descriptive language to set the scene. Vividly describe the characters, their surroundings and the circumstances they face. People should be able to mentally see the setting and action.
- Use your intonation and body language. Well-planned pauses, changes in voice tone and pitch, and intentional movements add action and tension to a story. That keeps people’s attention.
- Practice. Tell stories and do so often. If you bomb once, don’t give up. Continue to hone the skill in front of friends, family and trusting coworkers who will offer you feedback about your pace, story length, body language tone and message reinforcement.
—Adapted from “Once Upon a Time at the Office: 10 Storytelling Tips to Help You Be More Persuasive,” David Lavenda, Fast Company, http://www.fastcompany.com.