We all tell stories. They help us to communicate and to relate to one another. They help us to share family history, bond with friends, and even add a humorous flair to your conversation. Most importantly, they can be used to illustrate an important point and flesh out your presentation.
Here’s one of my stories:
When I was in the cookware business, I often gave out recipes to people. A perennial favorite is my famous coleslaw dressing: three simple ingredients, delicious flavor. Here is the recipe:
4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise (fat free is OK)
2 Tablespoons Vinegar (any kind)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Stir well, enjoy.
Once, I gave this recipe to a customer. Later, when I was back in her home she raved about the dressing. “And I did it just like you said,” she bubbled, “. . . except I didn’t have any mayonnaise, so I used Miracle Whip. But other than that, I did it exactly like the recipe said . . . except my husband has diabetes, so I used Equal. But other than that, I followed it exactly . . . except I didn’t have any vinegar, so I used pickle juice. But other than that . . . . . . I did it exactly like you said!”
The truth is, she didn’t even use one of the ingredients in my recipe!
I use this story to illustrate a variety of different points while bringing a little humor to my presentation.
Here are some quick tips on telling effective stories:
- Practice telling the story. Edit it down so that it is precise and articulate. No one likes a story that rambles all over before getting to the point. Rehearsal does not ruin spontaneity. On the contrary, it prepares you to be quick and articulate when the moment is right.
- Use stories from your own life. Anyone can copy stories from others and occasionally, they can be effective. But, for true originality and freshness, the best stories are adapted from your own life and experience. Pay attention and write down experiences as they happen. Soon you will have more material than you can use.
- Emphasize the humorous aspect of the story. Practice telling it in a way that makes it fun and interesting.
- Make your stories appropriate to the circumstances. The most effective stories relate to the current conversation or topic. In a business situation, stick to stories that are relevant and don’t divert the client’s attention from what you are saying.
- Never tell a story that could be offensive or reflect negatively on someone else. Tell stories that have universal appeal. The goal is to help you bond with and relate to your audience, not to alienate them.
Success Tip: Practice telling stories to illustrate your points in business presentations and to boost your charisma in everyday conversation.