Do you feel uncomfortable speaking in public?
Do you wonder if people will listen to what you have to say?
Do you think you need to have an unusual or unique life to talk about yourself?
More people than you can imagine will answer “Yes” to all the questions posed above — though they may not admit it out loud. Believing that you need to have a “charmed” life to tell a story about yourself is to deny the uniqueness we all possess. Every person has their own story to tell, their own lens they use to see the world.
But being a good storyteller doesn’t always involve relating your own story. Indeed, many of the stories that capture our fancy beginning in childhood involve imagination, as well as observation. The stories we witness that don’t necessarily involve ourselves, as well as those we create about others — these are all part of the storyteller’s raw material.
The essential skill to being a good storyteller involves creating a “dialogue” with other people. Looking directly at your audience (of one or many) and using the importance presentation skills of voice, gesture, and body language will make your story appealing.
As children we know the words, “Once upon a time” signal the beginning of a story. But to capture our attention, these words need to be accompanied by the intonation, rhythm and rate that conveys a natural speaking voice.
One of the critical features of storytelling is the investment in the story by the storyteller. A good storyteller conveys conviction: the storyteller believes the story and wants to take you on a journey. From “spinning a yarn” to “this is the absolute truth,” the stories that capture us are told in a way that invites us to listen and believe.
So why is storytelling so important?
Whether you’re pitching yourself in an interview, selling a product, or giving a presentation about your research, engaging the audience is the key to effectiveness.
If you practice the art of storytelling you will approach any speaking situation as a moment to capture other people’s attention and involve them in what you say.
The answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this article can become “no” if you approach your speaking as “telling a story.” You’re no longer the public speaker standing in front of an audience but a storyteller evoking the interest of everyone who has loved a good story since childhood.
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