….sang George Harrison in 1963.
There’s a ‘magic ingredient’ to the most powerful presentations: a consistent component in speeches that make us sit up, listen and take action. However, it’s woefully under-utilised in a sea of slides, cue cards and data.
So what’s the secret? Bryan Stevenson received the longest standing ovation in TED-history – and he spent 65 per cent of his talk telling stories (Carmine Gallo, Talk Like TED, 2014). Scans reveal that stories stimulate the brain, engaging language, visual, sensory and motor areas, which does several things for a presentation:
- Rich language and visuals build intrigue and aid memory.
- Stories create emotional connections with the audience and build trust.
Stevenson uses a story about his grandmother to make a powerful point about the nature of identity. It resonated with me: my own wonderful, funny and endlessly kind Nan used to share fascinating stories from her life, which helped my family and I to understand her journey. For example, knowing how she was evacuated and told to ‘look after the little ones’ helped us understand the 10-year-old Lil (she was always Lil, not Lilian), and explains, in part, her enduring gratitude for small things and the incredible ability she had to connect with children.
In the book, Any Human Heart (2002), William Boyd covers the theme that we are ‘an anthology of selves’: a composite of versions, throughout our lives, with different perspectives and experiences over time. Our stories and our ‘version of events’ reveal who we are. And if you think they’re not relevant at work, I’d counter that with Brené Brown’s idea that ‘stories are just data with a soul’.
So, we hope you’ll take some time to:
Listen – Stories = people, so when you hear one, really hear it – especially those of the people you love.
Speak-up – If you’ve got a story, share it – whether it’s in a presentation, a blog, or over lunch/dinner with your friends or family.