Have I ever told you about…?
Let me tell you about the time I almost got eaten by a shark.
Or the time I escaped a burning office tower.
Or about the time I won $5 million in the lottery and how I spent it all.
Those things never happened to me, but I grabbed your attention didn’t I?
You wanted to hear the story, you needed to know what happened.
Experts say that storytelling (and by extension story listening) is genetic. We are disposed to communicate that way. It’s true, you’re more apt to remember something if you can recall the story it was paired with, and even tell others.
“Training that is delivered through story carries an emotional weight into people’s minds that helps the concepts stick.” – Taken from Velsoft’s Training with Visual Storytelling course
You must be prepared to tell a story. Think of good storytellers you’ve heard, they may sound casual, but you can bet they’ve given it a lot of thought and practice.
Storytelling is similar to a joke. You hear one you like and you will remember and share it.
A good stand-up comedian doesn’t just make up jokes on the spot, they write and reflect upon them and try them out, as does a good trainer who uses storytelling as part of the delivery process.
Compare a storyteller to a trainer at the front of a classroom reading slide after slide from a presentation. Which would you rather? An animated trainer who weaves a topic through a story or one who drones on reading slides that you can easily read yourself? Sometimes an explanation is just more words, but pair it with something relatable, and you’ve got the students’ attention.
If you can’t hold someone’s attention, or give them something that will help them remember your message, then you’re just spitting in the wind.
To make your stories and training memorable, here are some handy pointers from Velsoft to help develop your skills.
What People Remember
People won’t remember your learning objectives or your change initiative. However, if you deliver your message with a powerful story, your audience will remember the story, at least for a time. When the emotion in your story connects to the emotion in your audience’s story, you develop a shared story that connects both of you powerfully, and memorably.
The Potential of Stories
If you master telling stories, you can greatly influence others. By using stories in your presentations, your audience can easily recall what they’ve learned, and they can even spread the stories for you. A well-crafted story can bring your themes to life and they will give your messaging influence because they emphasize a transformation and they have a clear structure.
When people hear a story, they empathize with the protagonist and root them on as they make it through obstacles. They get emotionally close to a person who adopts the behavior and beliefs you are suggesting, especially if their transformation is similar to what the audience will go through. If you are presenting about a change and your protagonist has already survived this change, the audience will be able to relate.
The Structure of Stories
Aristotle taught a three-stage story structure that we still use today: beginning, middle, and end. Audiences are conditioned to hear stories this way and it makes it easy to relate to. Make sure your stories, including stories within your presentations, have all three parts and clear transitions between each phase.
Making Your Structure Solid
In order to create unforgettable story, your tale will resolve some kind of conflict or lack of balance. It’s the feeling of discontent, angst, or anguish that makes your audience care enough to get on board with you. If you want people to change the way they currently approach something, then you’ve got to also be persuasive. A persuasive story structure includes a juxtaposition of what is with what could be.
So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
But I promise that if any of the things listed above ever happen to me, you’ll be the first to know.