Storytelling is ancient; humans have been doing it forever. Here, Serena Evans, West End actor and trainer on red 10’s Speaking with Authenticity workshop, explains why powerful stories and their effects are what your audience is longing for.
Storytelling is ancient; humans have been doing it forever. It has been the way we have passed down information, taught our children the rights and wrongs, passed on our tribal rules and skills, and, indeed, learnt who we are.
My father told me several stories about his childhood in Africa, of his many adventures, and about the grandmother I never met. It’s how I learnt about who I was, where I came from, and, in many way, why I am the way I am. I have strong visual, emotional and physical memories of these stories.
As an actor, I experience daily, through audience reaction, how powerful stories are and how much we humans long for them. We want to be entertained, engaged with, inspired, moved, thrilled, tickled, scared, even upset. It’s why we love going to the cinema and experiencing live theatre. And why these art forms persist.
More importantly, however, is that we REMEMBER the story; the images and emotions these evoke enable us to retain the information that we have been given. A good story sticks in our minds, and stays with us in a way that simple data never would. This is why it is so important for leaders inside organisations to learn how to tell a story well. It is not just the creation of the organisational narrative (although the construction of that narrative is important too) but it is the telling of the story that is the catalyst to action.
Thankfully, even in the most high-tech businesses human beings are still required to present to other human beings on a personal level. Despite all the opportunities for technology and gadgets, reaching the part of the human being we want to reach – the part that is emotional and fires motivation to act – is still done most effectively through personal engagement and connection.
Some people are more natural storytellers than others but in my experience, EVERYONE has an interesting story to tell, and, with a little support, can learn to tell it in a powerful, engaging, emotive and authentic way. Even Mr. Bean manages it – even without words…
When we sit down to listen to ‘yet another’ presentation, even though we are at work, we are longing to be engaged, amused, inspired, thrilled – as a minimum, kept AWAKE! We yearn to witness something that will enable us to leave the room full of new ideas, energised, motivated, perhaps even a little happier than we were when we entered the room.
So what’s the story? How are you going to reach the parts that other presentations don’t? Remember, you are not the main act: your audience is the main act so how are you going to inspire, engage and motivate yours?