Storytelling has always been a part of my life.  Even before I began writing my weekly essay back in 2011, I had the opportunity to be a presenter and speaker at several events across North America.  This was all part of my job as a senior executive with a global management consulting firm.

Admittedly harrowing at first, but what I found was the more I presented the less stressful and more enjoyable the process became.  In fact, it wasn’t too long before I became quite comfortable speaking and being onstage.

Another way I built my confidence was through completing the yearlong Improvisation Course at the Second City in Toronto.  👍🏼

Taking this course added to my confidence onstage as the premise of Improv comedy is “yes, and“.  It helped build my ability to go with the flow even if things went awry.

The beauty of Improv comedy is that it’s created in the moment, but more importantly it paints a picture that each of us can relate to on some level.

Interestingly Improv comedy is not about being funny, but about taking every moment as it comes and saying “yes”, then adding to the existing story.  🙌🏼

However, the simple thread that runs through Improv is that it’s a form of storytelling…albeit ad hoc and made up on the spot.

I don’t think I’ve laughed so much as I did during my year long course.  At the end of each session, I would come home, and my stomach muscles would be sore from laughing…

Over the years I’ve gleaned some great lessons that I wanted to share with you about public speaking and how you can use storytelling to great advantage whether it be for an audience of 1 or 1000.  ❤️

Lesson 1:  Having the ability to think quickly on your feet is not just a great skill to have as a presenter, but also for life in general.

Change is our constant companion, so being able to quickly size up a situation and adapt while “on the go” is important.  Even if sometimes you find yourself in a whole new situation and story.

How many times have you expected something to go one way, only to be surprised that things changed and now you quickly you had to adapt to a fluid situation?

Our ability to adapt and go with the flow is vital especially if you have a high emotional intelligence and can read the mood of the room.

Lesson 2:  Not all presenters are created equal…

Have you ever attended a conference or workshop that you were excited about the topic only to find it boring because the presenter basically read their PowerPoint presentation word for word.  I find this especially frustrating when the presentation is up on the big screen where you can see it…

Oi vey!

This translates into an automatic snooze-fest!

Just because they’re an expert in the field of study or topic it doesn’t mean they can present the material in a compelling way.  A way that draws the audience in and helps them connect the dots.

Sure, use PowerPoint if that’s important to you, but the real “meat” of the talk in my mind is sharing the context or relatable stories with your audience, which highlight your key points.

Drawing emotion from your audience is one of the strongest things you could do as a speaker, and this is best accomplished via storytelling.

Finding different ways to illicit these emotions is part of the fun of public speaking…albeit a little nerve-wracking cos’ you’re in front of an audience.

Lesson 3:  Storytelling is the glue that helps you connect with your audience.

Storytelling provides an opportunity to bring context to your topic.

The best presenters I’ve seen are the ones that can tell a story and place you in the middle of the action.  They’re able to connect your senses…

Absorbing stories and the associated emotions has the ability to motivate us into action, but they need to real and authentic.  Don’t tell a story just for the sake of a story – ensure you hit home with the “ah-ha” moment and connect the dots to your overall messaging.

One of the best compliments you can receive as a public speaker is for your stories to be shared and passed around to their friends, co-workers, and family.

Lesson 4:  Preparation is the key to your success.

Prior to speaking at an event, it’s vital to understand the topic and objectives for your talk, the makeup of your audience to ensure you’re in sync with the organizer to help drive the right outcomes and levels of engagement for it to be successful.

This often takes time to research and prepare for.  You can’t take short cuts with this process because if you’re not fully prepared then it may spell disaster for you up on stage.

Identify your key stories, write them down and ensure you have a way of remembering when to use them in the presentation.  Perhaps on a card that you hold or a prompt of some type.

My advice – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse… ❤️

I find that storytelling helps me not only prepare for a talk, but also brings me confidence.  It gets me comfortable and puts me at ease, which is an important part of putting yourself out there.

Sometimes putting yourself out there can be the most frightening thing of all.

My last piece of advice is – just be you!   And let your authentic self can shine through… ❤️

Until next week!