What do you need to do, to turn your talk into a captivating and unforgettable one?
Storytelling is the best way to deliver a concept and make it unforgettable.
Stories are the best way to transfer information into someone else’s mind and make it unforgettable. This is because people are hardwired to take in stories and relate them back to their own lives.
The first time I delivered a talk, I avoided sharing personal insights about me or my life. I thought that it would be too much, or that it would seem like I was doing a ‘poor-me’, or worse, that I was being too ‘showy’.
Instead, I thought that I’d give a far better talk by delivering a well researched speech, packed full of information, without any personal details or stories, and delivered in a controlled way.
I would deliver the exact steps that would produce the results the audience had came to hear about. I stayed close to the centre of the stage. I held my hands, much like police men do to look authoritative.
I thought that the topic would be enough to capture their attention. I also thought that my thoroughly researched and clearly articulated information was what they needed to be inspired to act.
The audience seemed to enjoy my talk. After all, they were nodding along in agreement and writing information down.
After I had finished delivering my talk, as you’re supposed to, I stayed to allow the audience members to approach me. No one was coming over to me. I thought that maybe I was standing in the wrong place. I figured that they must have needed to share what they got from the talk, with those who had gotten something too. I moved over to where everyone was quietly congregating.
Finally, people came over to speak to me. They smiled big as they approached me, and then gave me adequate feedback.
They smiled big because they were being kind, knowing that their sentiment was dispassionate. Rationally, they were able to say that it was a well thought out talk with solid action steps. But, they were clearly un-moved by my talk!
You can imagine the feeling, I felt flat. I had thought that my message would land and the audience would be in a buzz of excitement. I had not succeeded in my intention to inspire the audience to action.
What had gone wrong?
What did I need to do to turn my talk into a captivating and unforgettable one?
I went home asking myself these questions.
As I entered my front door, the words of Maya Angelou came to me: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
Maya’s words hit me, like a light bulb . . .
“People remember how you make them feel”
Ahh, not the information you give them!
“. . .people will forget what you said“
I got it! – to be able to truly reach the audience, I needed to shift their emotional state. To make the information accessible, transformational and memorable, I needed to do more than supply the information they would benefit from, I needed to deliver that information in a way that would stay with them. And that was by telling them stories, preferably personal stories, therefore, my stories!
Stories are a universal, because we all relate to the story of the hero, the underdog, heartbreak, and breakthrough! We are all moved by our feelings, of exhilaration and desire, of disheartenment and fear. Sharing our story generates a sense of shared experiences, even with the most diverse groups.
I realised that it is my responsibility to get my message to land! I chose to add one of my life stories that best delivered the message, and be okay with any discomfort around telling it.
I was amazed the first time I delivered my talk that opened with personal details about me. I heard the audiences response as I spoke. And when I stayed to allow the audience members to approach me, no one was without praise, and many with tears in their eyes.
They were taken by the message; a fire lit within them.
When I followed up 1 week later, every single participant was still powerfully moved by the talk. They all said that it was “the message” delivered by “your story” that got to them. They said they were “profoundly left with the message”.
TODAY, years later, they are still talking about that talk, “Turn up the dial on your authenticity”.
In a world divided by many reasons, at least stories unite us.
Stories make us human!
NOW it is your turn. Document your stories that best deliver your messages!