In today's information age, people are overwhelmed with information, data, and events to the point of being bombarded. With the advancement of technology that overwhelmed feeling is increased tenfold by the quick access to everything. So what does this mean when you are trying to command the attention of your audience, a prospect, an employee or a client?
With information overload in abundance, the attention span of most people is shortening requiring marketers to come up with creative ways to make messages stick and to use communication tactics designed for maximum impact. A proven and influential technique is to use storytelling in your sales meetings, presentations and employee communication. Studies have shown that people think visually. When they are asked to recall a word typically it is not the spelling of the word that enters into the heads of the audience rather the image of that word enters into their heads.
Storytelling can help build and reinforce relationships, create an engaging experience and can anchor your key message by drawing your audience into the story so they can connect emotionally with the story and the overall message. To be effective, a story must have these five parts:
For a story to be compelling there must be passion in the voice of the story teller and in the manner in which the story is told. This is a tool to connect with your audience so you must engage the audiences senses: Visual, Auditory, Smell and Kinesthetic so set the scene up and tell the audience what they would see, hear, smell and touch if they were in the middle of the story and relay your story with passion in your voice and animation in your movements.
- Characters and A Hero
Every story has characters and your story needs a hero. You need to set the stage and create a story from the eyes and the perspective of the hero and introduce the characters who will make your story seem real. Effective storytelling is not about re-telling a story rather it is about reliving the story and inviting your audience into the story. To do this, you must create characters that your audience could relate to and weave in a lesson that must be learned from the hero.
In every story the hero has an obstacle that needs to be overcome. You must create conflict or nobody will be drawn into your story. By setting up your story with characters and introducing the problem or conflict right away, your audience will be on the edge of their seats looking for how this problem was dealt with. An effective story teller will not only introduce conflict, but will allow it to intensify as your audience leans in further to hear how the story ends.
- A Ha Moment
Your story has to have an "a-ha" moment. The point in the story where there is a moment of awareness and the hero has figured out how to resolve the conflict. If you are in a sales presentation, you can weave in a direct correlation to the product or service that you are selling and really show how your hero was convinced that he or she has found the right path or the right solution.
This is the conclusion of your story or the result and outcome of finding the solution. In successful stories, the solution usually leads to a profound transformation that the hero has as a result of his or her "a 'ha" moment and in most cases, usually learns a very valuable lesson in the process.
Effective storytelling can engage your audience and make a real emotional connection to you. Master storytellers are able to build characters, scenes and conflict that keep the audience on the edge of their seat and they are able to use descriptive words and convey feelings that the audience can relate to. In a world with so much noise, this technique could be one that makes you stand apart from the rest.