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Storytelling: Hype or Real?

Storytelling: Hype or Real?

Category : Storytelling

Is ‘Storytelling’ a hype? As a marketing strategy, maybe, but only when done wrong. Because stories ARE important. Why are they so important? Because stories are part of our everyday life. Each day we tell each other stories. Each day we listen to stories. Stories are part of our DNA.

When we hear a story, we listen better. We remember more. And we trust the source of a story.

This is why storytelling is such a powerful marketing tool. And this is why storytelling needs to be part of public speaking.

In fact, when you do a talk, treat your talk as a story. Craft it like a story. Your audience will remember you for it, will believe your words and will trust you.

Don’t tell stories because others do. Tell them because it’s part of who we are. Because it’s personal. That’s storytelling done well.

How to do Storytelling?

Good storytelling isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work. You need to be prepared. Here are the steps that are important:

  1. you need to get information on your audience.
  2. you need to show the situation
  3. you need to have a character (the hero)
  4. you need to have conflict
  5. you need a goal
  6. you need to bring it all together

We are going in depth on this in our Storytelling Class which is now open to everyone!


I’ll get back to you on that, or maybe not…

A sentence often heard in presentations is “I will get back to that” or “I will talk about that later”. This can be both good and bad. Good if you make it a ‘cliffhanger’. Bad if you actually never do get back on the topic.

Bas van den Beld explains this sentence.

Transcript:

You have speakers who are talking about a certain topic and who then tend to drift off. And then they will tell the audience: “You know what, I’ll get back to that later on. This is a point, but I’ll get back to it.”

There’s actually a good way and a bad way of handling that. The good way is very interesting. Because it can help you keep the attention of the audience. The bad way is it’s going to make them very, very, very anxious.

The good way is when you’re using the “I’ll get back to you on that” in a way that builds tension. You’re not actually saying: “I’ll get back to you”. But you’re building up, kind of like with the commercials or with a talk show. “Later on I’ll be talking about… but first … “

When you do that you’re building up tension. You’re building up the expectation that you’re building towards something. And that will keep people’s attention because they want to hear what you’re going to be talking about in the end.

The bad way however is that you keep repeating whenever you start talking about something that you’re going to get back to the audience on that topic later on in your talk. But then the audience sees the time passing and sees that you are getting to the end of your presentation. And they might still not have heard anything about what you are going to get back to. And that means that maybe at the end of your talk, you’re actually not going to get back to the topics that you mentioned before. Because you just ran out of time.

In that case, you’re holding the audience ‘hostage’. And they are kind of waiting for it, but you’re not giving it to them. So that’s when it’s bad.

So, there’s a good way and a bad way to work with talking about stuff later on in your presentation.

Use the good way. Build up the tension. But make sure you can keep your promise. And do it well thought out.


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Want to make a point? Ask your audience these 3 questions

I wrote about ways to connect with your audience before. One topic I didn’t address then was asking the audience questions. Sometimes speakers want to engage with the audience by asking them a question. Often, these are simple questions (“who in the room works for an agency?”).

Sometimes the questions are more complicated. These have a high-risk factor in them. The audience might not respond. And if they don’t, it leaves you with an awkward ‘silence’. Unfortunately, you can see this happen quite often.

To avoid this from happening, there is a different way to get the engagement of the audience, using questions.

What not to ask

Let me start by saying what you shouldn’t do when asking a question. The first thing is simple: don’t ask a rhetorical or vague question. Asking ‘Don’t you feel this is a bad idea?’ will only make your audience gaze at you. You’re more or less saying you don’t want an answer.

If you don’t want an answer, don’t ask a question!

Second, if you are not specific enough, the audience will not know what you want from them. Asking ‘what do you know about X, Y or Z’ will not get you many answers. A question like “what are common believes you’ve heard about topic X, Y or Z’, will get you more answers. Why? Because it’s more specific and less ‘personal’. People are not afraid to answer that one.

The answer: Ask a series of questions

Before asking any question, you need to realise why you are asking a question. Is it ‘only’ to connect? Or are you trying to make a point? Chances are, you want to make a point. That means you want people to interact with you on a specific question.

You can ask a series of questions, building up to the ‘big one’. Build towards the answer to the ‘big question’ by asking several smaller ones.

Let’s say you want to emphasize the importance of using the right icons on an app to an audience of marketers. The point you want to make is that if you build an app, you want to use icons that people recognise.

To get them involved, you want to draw upon common concepts that are familiar to the audience. This will help lead them to the answer you want. In this case, you want to make clear that when building an app, use icons that people will understand.

You can then show a group of icons on the screen and ask “which icon represents the call button?”

Most likely, the audience will be able to point that out, since they’ve all seen these icons before. The follow-up question would then be “how do you know that icon represents the call button?” Again the audience will know the answer. Chances are they will say “because it has a phone on it”. The third question then is the key question. “Why do you think they use a picture of a phone for this function?” The audience will answer “because people recognise it.”

You’ve now made your point. If you build an app, you want to use icons that people recognise.

Of course, this is a very simple example of a relatively easy concept (we all know this, right?). The concept stays the same on different topics. Draw upon what people know and build towards the desired response.


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