One of the best ways to get your message across is with stories.
Don’t tell theoretical stories. Talk about real people and what happened to them.
Set the scene. Describe the situation – which will often involve some kind of problem or challenge.
Use some dialogue to personalise the story and draw out the intensity and seriousness of the situation.
Explain how the issue was resolved. What action was taken and what was the result?
Draw out an insight or conclusion. Don’t assume that your listener or reader can deduce the lesson – spell it out for them.
Involve your audience in the story with an appeal to their feelings – such as pride, fear, anger, sadness or guilt.
Include a call to action. What do you want the audience to do as a result of the story?
Most stories follow one of five plot types – a) the hero’s journey b) love story c) coming of age d) stranger in a strange land e) revenge. Follow the structure and people will instinctively know where it leads.
A personal story (about ME) is good but a story in which the audience can picture themselves (about YOU) is better. Best of all is a story about the US – e.g. working together to overcome a challenge.
Try taking a customer case study and turning it into a story.
Practise your story and tell it with feeling and conviction. People are more likely to remember a story than a set of facts and figures. And they are much more likely to be persuaded to your cause.
Paul is a professional keynote conference speaker and expert facilitator on innovation and lateral thinking. He helps companies improve idea generation and creative leadership. His workshops transform innovation leadership skills and generate great ideas for business issues. His recent clients include Airbus, Microsoft, Unilever, Nike, Novartis and Swarovski. He has published 30 books on lateral thinking puzzles, innovation, leadership and problem solving (with over 2 million copies sold). He also acts as link presenter at conferences and facilitator at high level meetings such as a corporate advisory board. He has acted as host or MC at Awards Dinners. Previously, he was CEO of Monactive, VP International of MathSoft and UK MD of Ashton-Tate. He recently launched a series of podcast interviews entitled Insights from Successful People.