Storytelling is a captivating experience. Notice that I say “experience.” When you make a presentation, you are typically expected to teach something, providing solutions. That’s fine, teach away!
You are also expected to make an impact on your audience. It’s my belief that the best way to do this is to use storytelling to make a point, illustrate an idea or move people to action. Storytelling naturally makes a strong emotional connection with your audiences because it engages our primal brain, bringing your listeners back around the ancient campfire.
So…if you’ve successfully created a story that is doing all these good things, you want to avoid accidentally sabotaging the effect.
- “…Long Story Short.” I have grown to heartily dislike that phrase. I know, I know…most of us use it. I advise you to catch yourself and wipe it off your word palate. I find it always signals that there is a longer story I’m not hearing, at some level it warns the listener that they may be in for a long story anyway. The main reason I hate it is that this phrase is totally artificial and interrupts the immersive potential of your story.
- “…that reminds me of a time…” – or words to that effect. Your goal as a storyteller is to make sure the through-line of your story is easy to follow. Avoid tangents and detours. It puzzles the listener and gets in the way of letting them enter your story.
- Avoid “mental speed bumps.” Remember, your advice, information, teaching and so forth have a strong place in your speech. However, when you use stories – knowing that your goal is to immerse the listener in it – avoid jargon and technical phrases which yank the listening brain out of the story. Keep your words simple, avoid data and technical phrases at all costs.