Public Speaking Storytelling

Five Principles

Look at any of the great public speakers and you may find that they tell stories rather than give speeches. Using public speaking storytelling is one of the keys to holistic speaking.

Storytelling will enable you to reap rich rewards in the way of audience motivation, acceptance, and approval.

Historically, the earliest histories of man were handed down from generation to generation by storytelling. The art was so refined that it was often delivered in the form of public speaking. Then with the increasing of written languages came more written stories and histories.

Within the story it is possible to tell the past, present, or even what the future can be. More importantly, if a moral or purpose is attached to the story, it will give a motivational quality that can move an audience to your most wanted response.


Public Speaking Storytelling: The Human Struggle

    Telling a story allows the speaker to reach out, touch and even move the audience. It will find it’s equilibrium with individuals who feel like they are of no consequence, the powerless and those who feel left out.

    It can identify the human struggle and how anyone in spite of the odds can win the rat race.

    Public speaking storytelling can be defined as the art of verbally conveying events in words, images and sounds. Stories can be fictional or real. Storytelling results in a unique experience forming with in the mind of each listener.

    "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
    - Anton Chekhov

    If you describe a place or event rather than showing a visual of the same each listener creates a cascade of unique mental images. Because it relies on the listener’s personal experience and imagination it has a stronger impact. Further it primes the mind for acceptance of the moral, lesson, or motivation it presents.

Five Principles to Incorporate in Storytelling

To get the most of the five principles...

  • 1) Identify your most wanted response. This is the basis for applying these principles.
  • 2) Identify the moral, lesson, or motivation the story has to offer.
  • 3) Introduce the story and start to appeal to the emotions of the audience.
  • 4) As you transition into the body of the talk, incorporate the informational, persuasive, or motivational aspect of your message. Reach out to the senses of the listening audience.
  • 5) Finish the story, reinforce the application and conclude with a review the moral, lesson or principle...or...
  • Make the application and finish the story as you move into the conclusion.

Word of caution, you can have a story so wonderful the meaning is lost. The audience will remember the story but not it’s application. It is necessary to spell out the moral, lesson, or principle to get the most wanted response to the audience.

The Story Needs a Purpose, Moral, or Lesson

    The story needs a moral, a positive outcome, a lesson, or be of a nature that learning or motivation can result from it.

    In public speaking storytelling it’s important to know the material well and not be looking at notes more than the audience. It needs to come from deep within your heart and flow up and out of your mouth as though it was a spring of thoughts bubbling up like fresh water.

    Each individual in the listening audience will have their own personal experience in hearing the story. Their personal life experiences, emotions and feelings will filter the way they hear the story.

    Your listeners will actually count on you the storyteller to provide the point of view and moral message of the story. The clarity and strength you bring to the telling will give the listeners a sense of comfort and security.

    As a speaker and storyteller, if you connect with the audience, you will be giving them a gift. This gives all the more reason to have substance to the story.

Public Speaking Storytelling Needs to be Sensual

    Employ all the senses in the words you use, how you use them and the body language used to present the story.

    The dominant senses of sight and hearing are easy to speak to. For sight, storytelling requires visual descriptions. Please note that visual aids are not necessary if you master telling storytelling in your public speaking.

    Hearing is likewise easy to address in public speaking storytelling. Words like loud, quiet, noisy, and soft are easy to relate to. Taking it further, those word descriptions can be related to things we know. For example consider the soft coo of a dove or a mother to her baby in contrast to the screech of a parrot.

    More difficult to incorporate is the taste and smell. The difficulty can be seen in the question, “What does a cherry taste like?”

    It brings a subjective answer that's different to each of us. To capture the other senses, relate the story to the known tastes, smells and feels familiar to your audience. For example consider the softness of silk or the softness of a fresh picked piece of cotton depending on where you live.

    As you incorporate the senses in the story it will further be unique to each of the listeners.

    The more attuned any speaker can be to the audience the better the ability to incorporate energy to appeal to each mode of sensory intake that may be dominant to the various individuals in the audience.

Rapport is Vital in Public Speaking Storytelling

    One way rapport is attained is through listening to the audience. How do you listen when you are speaking or storytelling? Listen to the body language of the audience. Be receptive to head nods, attention, laughs and ahhhs. These say the story has been received and accepted. They are ready to hear more of the story.

    Also be attentive to yawning, crossed arms and other body language that is the audience speaking to you that you may have lost rapport.

    Rapport can be further developed by incorporating. Sounds, interruptions, everything going on can and should be a part of the story telling.

    If you feel you’re not good at thinking on your feet, then practice in advance the possible scenarios that could take place. Have a repertoire of things to say and do for each possible interruption. Even anticipate the person in the audience who challenges what you say.

    If you do not have a comeback, then politely say you do not have the answer and ask the person to drop by their contact info and find the answer later. In so doing you will garner even more respect and rapport from your audience.

    One study in academia demonstrated that smarter individuals had less confidence in their abilities. The less competent individuals were more confident in their abilities.

    So the moral is, the truly smart are smarter than they think, and the less competent are not as smart as they think they are.

    Whether it is humility or being truly smart, not knowing it all is the safe way to go and it will prevent humiliation if you’re wrong.

Public Speaking Motivation Home Page and a list of motivation links. The Public Speaking Storytelling Web Site

Lets Connect View Jonathan Steele RN Holistic Nurse's profile on LinkedIn
Lets Connect View Jonathan Steele RN Holistic Nurse's profile on LinkedIn
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