Transport People Through the Power of Storytelling
One of my clients was working on a presentation about facing fear. At one point in her talk, she told a story about jumping out of a perfectly good plane.
Originally, her story consisted of her and her best friend going up in the plane with her friend, in tandem with her instructor, jumping out first. The words she chose we perfectly accurate, but not very exciting nor very descriptive.
I explained to my client it was doubtful that her friend simply walked to the side of the plane, sat down on the edge of the plane and fell out. She agreed. She told me that her friend and the instructor shimmied to the edge of the plane, quickly exchanged a few words and then tumbled out. She then continued to describe, in detail, how she and her instructor followed suit.
I then asked my client to use her body to visually tell the story, matching her movements to her words. She had it down in only a few tries. It was at that point that she realized how powerful it is when your words and your body language come together to tell your story and captivate your audience. She then edited her talk, substituting words that were not only more descriptive but also lent themselves to a more engaging use of body language.
The difference from my client’s original story and her final story is that she progressed from relaying facts to reliving her story. In her final version, she also included the sounds of the engine and the wind, the non-stop vibration of the plane, and the intense experience of fear blending with exhilaration.
When you tell stories, you should also relive them. Include as many of the five senses as possible and feasible. Take your audience back to experience. Let them view it firsthand, if not participate in it.
When you do this well, you move from merely engaging your audience to collaborating with them.
Oh, yeah. If you’re wondering how my client’s actual presentation went, by all accounts, she flew to new heights.