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Why should you bring stories into your presentations? Five reasons:

  1. To make a point
  2. To teach someone
  3. To show vulnerability
  4. To establish credibility
  5. To inspire people

Anyone can tell a story, what makes you memorable is not just telling a story, but rather telling a great story. Here are four principles you can apply to turn your average story into a great story.

PRINCIPLE 1: Your Introduction

This is crucial. What you say to draw your audience in establishes the point you are about to make and will determine if your listener will continue to listen in or start to tune out.

PRINCIPLE 2: Believe the Story

If you don’t believe your story, no one else will either. While you are telling the story you can picture it in your mind as your words are painting the description of what you are seeing. You have got to see it, feel it, taste it, touch it, smell it and make those words come to life so that your audience will believe what you are saying.

PRINCIPLE 3: Delivery

How you deliver will draw your audience in or push them away. Are you inviting them in to come on a journey with you, to listen, to go somewhere, to explore something? Are you willing to sound and look a little bit different in your tone, tempo, body language and voice inflections in order to draw your listener in and engage them in your story?

PRINCIPLE 4: Infrastructure

There must be infrastructure in place in order for your listener to understand where you are taking them. There must be a beginning, middle and an end. I learned in Toastmasters years ago – tell people what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you told them. When you tell them what you are going to tell them, this is the headline, the introduction, the why should they listen and the ‘what’s in it for me factor’. Then go into the details of what you are telling them. As you are going into the details you are exploring each point in a linear, sequential manner. You are painting a picture – point 1, point 2, point 3 – then you are moving to the next point. Once you have finished your story, you tell your listener a quick recap of what you have just told them. Then remember transitions, or as I like to say, your pivots. How does that tie in to the next point that you are about to give them?

So, again, the four basic principles are: 1. Your introduction, 2. Your believability, 3. Your delivery and 4. The infrastructure you have in place. Let’s tie these four principles into telling stories. The first story I gave you was to cover our first point which was to make a point. The second one is to teach people. If you are teaching someone how to be a team member and telling them why something was important you might start with a scenario such as:

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