A couple of years ago, I discovered the existence of a new powerful communication tool, or if I may say, an effective and vital new skill — Storytelling. I started noticing people around me, storytellers who possess the ability to capture your attention and open a world of endless possibilities through just words and imagery. They allow us to connect to their story and expand our own understanding of the world around us. They eventually empower our minds to explore and help us build images, because when we consume the information in a story, it sparks our imaginations, and that results in discussions, ideas and potentially new initiatives.
Throughout the years, I started learning more about storytelling as I read a bunch of articles, books, watched a lot of TED videos and attended some traineeships. I enjoyed that, and started applying the new skill to family and some friends. It was amusing to look around and see folks hanging on every word I say.. So here is 5 storytelling techniques I’m using.
First and most importantly, what you need to do is to figure out what kind of story you’re telling, and who you’re telling it to. That should be enough to decide what kind of information you need to include. Moving on to one of the key points in good storytelling, which is engaging your audience. Learn to make eye contact with everyone in the room, it helps them focus on the conversation and read facial expressions. Do not look to the floor! you’re not telling it the story. Try to switch eye contact to someone else every now and then as you are making a point, then the person you switch to feels they are getting a good amount of the story told just for them, they will feel that they are part of the story.
Secondly, stay physically interesting while narrating a story, stay animated. You should bring the characters of the story to life, change your voice appropriately depending on it. Using gestures is really important as well. Maybe sigh, or hang your shoulders to illustrate what you or the people in the story must have been feeling.
Pauses are important. They give your audience time to chuckle at the amusing things, and it creates a tension causing them to actively desire to know what happens next. So, you want to pause for a second or two either right after you say something funny, or right before you say something important or dramatic. You can definitely use pauses if you feel that the story is getting heavy, it will force them to focus as they will say “why did he stop talking? let me see what’s up” and boom they are back focusing on the story.
One more thing to know is if you get a little confused about some details, as you weren't able to put them in the right order or they are just blurry, or even not that interesting, just admit it and move on to your story. Don’t put so much effort on remembering details because that will make you stutter saying words like ‘eh’, ‘like’, and another ‘eh’.. that’s why you always need to keep the end of the story you are telling in your mind, to eliminate any extraneous details and/or to help you reformulate or improvise spontaneously what you will say.
Finally, Choose a key statement or message that is clear and concise. A good story will usually lead to a central moral or lesson, that’s why you should have a clear notion of where you’re going with it. If you’re telling a funny story, you should build up to a twist that will make your audience laugh out loud. If you’re telling a compelling story, attempt to build dramatic tension and suspense right up until the conclusion. Regardless of what type of story you are telling, it’s important to be very clear on the central theme or plot point that you are building your story around.
Storytelling is an important skill, actually the oldest way to deliver a message. Ancient peoples used storytelling. Your uncle uses storytelling. You’re using storytelling for yourself and your business, even if you don’t call it exactly that. The best thing to do is keep practicing and pay attention to your audience. Each time you tell a story is an opportunity to gather feedback based on your audience’s reaction and improve it for the next telling.