Remember when you were younger and your parents advised you to never tell tales? Well, there has never been a better time to ignore that advice!
Before you all go running off, hear me out for a moment. We live in a ‘Communications Age’ where we are consistently encouraged to share our story on social media, via blogs and videos. But what does ‘sharing our story’ actually mean and, are we any good at it?
Telling tales your audience will remember
We’ve been transmitting information from one person to another and one generation to the next, using story, for thousands of years from the days of the cavemen and cavewomen, painting pictures on their walls, through folklore, myth and legend, to modern media. Stories surround us, guide us, teach and inform us.
Walt Disney famously said, “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”
By finding ways of sharing our story, our employees will be more engaged and our clients will want to do business with us.
Telling tales – Why should I care?
One of our team recently went on a training course with one of the world’s leading motivational speakers, Les Brown, who has 3 questions he suggests we ask ourselves when preparing a speech or presentation
“Who are you?”
“What do you have?”
“Why should I care?”
They are great questions because so often at a meeting or conference we notice how it’s almost always the senior manager who speaks although, not always with confidence. Their audience know who they are and because of their position it’s typical for them to present the latest update about the company or department, including the results and what to expect over the next 12 months.
I wonder though, how many people sit in the audience and ask themselves, “why should I care?” or “How does this relate specifically to me?”
A sorry tale
We ran a conference recently for a new client and the presentations were heavy with data. So much so, we couldn’t read the writing on the 12ft screen! The speakers spent most of the day talking at the delegates with just one very short Q&A session. So, for the visual and kinesthetic preferences sat amongst the audience it was pretty hard going. As a consequence, very little of their message would have resonated because it didn’t match the communication or learning styles of all the participants.
As a result, we were disappointed to see for the first time at one of our events, some of the delegates falling asleep!
When we had the debrief with our client afterwards they admitted the conference was typical of how they usually ran. Their audience had started to accept the company conferences were a day out of the office with the same old messages! Their speakers were so busy concentrating on remembering all of their content, their focus was on themselves instead of their audience. The strategic company messages were literally lost in translation. It was time to make some changes…
Plato said “Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something.”
A happy tale
The good news is, one of our business coaches is already working with our client in preparation for their Autumn event. They are developing the speakers to deliver their message with impact, and designing the content and agenda to make the day more interactive and memorable for everyone.
Building a bridge to our audience is vital if we want them to connect with us and our message. To make our message memorable we should create a variety of ways to do that. In fact, Les Brown believes when we listen to other people’s stories we can use them as examples to relate a point and connect with others. He says, “The power of a story is fueled by the energy of who you are, behind the words that you speak. This energy creates life changing moments for the listeners.”
“So, what emotion would you like to generate in your audience as a result of sitting through one of your sessions?” For example, if it’s to be inspired, excited or motivated, then consider what stories you can share that generate that emotion. Use music and video to embed the story further.
This is when you truly start to ignite their spirit and unlock their mind to possibilities. If you just want them to be more knowledgeable, you may as well save yourself a whole lot of money and let them read about it on the intranet back in the office.
Here are a few ‘tell tale tips’ to make an impact with your audience at your next meeting.
- Use people in the company who are proficient in facilitating, to either host or deliver the sessions. Alternatively, recruit the services of an external host.
- Generate discussion groups at the tables at the end of each session to share with each other what they’ve learnt from that session.
- Use social media for Q & A to help the participants who are not as willing to put their hands up or speak in front of everyone.
- Provide ‘graffiti boards’ for individuals to share their ideas – 6ft high white boards placed in the refreshments area.
- Create a tailored hash-tag for the event where individuals can tweet their thoughts and comments. You will get a sense of the energy and interest levels
- Use video and music to share your stories and deliver your messages.
- Include a variety of visual, auditory and kinesthetic words so you connect with ‘all’ of your audience regardless of their communication preference.
- If possible, use the advice giving at the TED Talks in only speaking in 18-minute segments.
We hope you find these tips helpful. Let us know if you require the services of a professional production company to help you with your next event. If you have speakers who would like to deliver an impactful session and require development from one of our business coaches, please do get in touch.