The primary focus of most LatimerNext courses is enhancing your ability to create and communicate your message — your story — powerfully and persuasively to your audience. Virtually all the work we do points back to that theme of great communication, and great storytelling. Even in the workplace, great stories are what will stand out among your clients and colleagues, and will make your communication more memorable and more effective. You’ll better sell your ideas, and influence those around you by having a great story, and telling it in a simple, compelling, and powerful way.
So what goes into great storytelling? Here are five key ideas:
- Plan your story. This is a crucial first step. Start with a whiteboard or blank piece of paper, and decide what the flow of your story will be. What problem are you trying to solve? What benefit are you presenting to your audience? Don’t make the mistake of throwing together a slide deck and then attempting to speak to the slides. Know your destination before you start the journey.
- Anchor your story with simple messages. We live in a 140-character world where attention spans are short and varied. If it takes too long to get to your point, you risk losing your audience and losing influence. If you can’t boil your message down to the length of a Tweet, it’s probably not simple enough.
- When building your story, find an antagonist or problem to rally your audience around. If you can identify a problem, and build consensus among your audience around a need to act on that problem, selling them on your solution will be that much easier.
- Tell your story from an audience-centric viewpoint. Knowing your audience is a key to all great communication. We call this Allocentric Awareness. Don’t tell your story based on your own needs and opinions, or the potential benefit to your company. You’ll enjoy a great deal more success if you think about the value and benefit to the audience, and tell the story they need to hear.
- Remember the “Rule of Three.” Great stories — be they movie scripts, novels, TV shows, even sales presentations — are told in three parts, or three “acts.” As you build your story, consider a “beginning, middle, end,” or an “opening, content, closing” framework. Then, maybe in the middle portion of your framework, there are “three examples,” or “three next steps.” The Rule of Three can not only help you build a good story, but also convey your message to your audience without giving them too much or too little to absorb.
These five steps will help you build and tell a more powerful, more memorable story. And being a great storyteller is a key to effective communication. When we do it well, it gives us more influence, and more competitive advantage.