In my post “Audience Attention on Steroids” I wrote that the only sure-fire way to engage an audience time and again is with stories. Stories that tap into the emotions of your audience; make them feel what the teller felt; help them think about their own experiences. A reader commented that he thinks the massive effect only happens when the speaker tells their own stories and I agree. So let’s talk about why that is.
When you effectively tell stories from your own life, you are reliving the experience, not simply retelling the experience. Your thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions are powerful because you were there. No need to pretend, or act, or make stuff up.
The audience experiences it with you, facing each event or moment one at a time, just as it happened in real life. There’s no omniscient narrator, knowing how it all turns out. When you reach the resolution of the story and feel relief, satisfaction, joy, euphoria, success or other emotion, the audience feels it with you. That is memorable.
When you connect your story to the point or lesson you want to make, the point is connected to the emotion the audience felt and furthers memorability.
I often think of three short phrases that came from memorable personal stories I had the pleasure of hearing. I don’t recall all the details of the stories, but I do recall how I felt while living them along with the storyteller. These phrases provide guidance years after the experience.
Everyone has stories from their own experiences. When you remember an event or moment from your life, make a short note in a story list. Then go back and flesh it out and ask yourself what point or points you could make with it. When it’s time for you to speak, you’ll be able to refer to your list and craft the story to work with your speech. That’s when you’ll create audience attention on steroids.