I have been speaking professionally for 15 years, sharing the stage with some of the best presenters in the world. Throughout all of my experiences, I have found that the best presenters are also the best storytellers; in fact, I don't think of myself as a presenter, but instead as a storyteller. The human brain craves stories because we crave connections.
Telling a story sounds easy, but there are a few key criteria that every great storyteller must remember:
1. Always be genuine.
Audience members will see right through ingenuous stories and you will immediately lose any influence you had.
2. You are not a fact teller.
If your audience just wanted to know the hard facts about your topic, your job would be to hand out a fact sheet and leave. Your job as a storyteller is to be an info-tainer; you must be both informative and entertaining.
3. Interact with your audience.
Make your story relatable by asking questions like, “has anyone ever experienced…?” or “how many of you has this happened to?” Another tactic is to make a statement that you know to be true for at least 90% of the audience. The purpose of your story is to connect the audience to you, to each other, and to their future.
4. Keep your story short, sweet, and to the point.
Michelangelo said that “every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the job of the sculpture to find it.” Creating a great story is all about the editing.
5. Most importantly: every 7-10 seconds, your story must make your audience feel something.
If humans were ruled by logic alone, every person in the world would stop smoking and there would be no arguments with loved ones. Decisions are made by a combination of logical reasoning and emotion — even the most logical people in the world can be completely derailed by their emotions. If you want your audience to be motivated to do something, you must make them feel strongly about your story and then call them into action.