Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Storytelling tips from frequent speakers and speechwriters

All of the frequent speakers and speechwriters interviewed in my Inside Voice series are storytellers--and some of them help others to tell stories, too. All that insight from these public speaking insiders is available to you here, to inspire and guide your own use of stories in your speeches, presentations and talks:
  1. TEDMED chief storytelling officer Marcus Webb insists on authenticity in storytelling--that is, a story that is deeply meaningful to the speaker. Without that, skip the story. "Better no anecdotes than a cheesy anecdote!" he says.
  2. Author Gillian Davis recommends finding your own voice, and telling your story in a way that's true to you. "You have to find the style that you’re comfortable with and own it!" she says.
  3. Speechwriter Amélie Crosson-Gooderham adds reality to stories with detail. She feels "It means taking abstract or general statements and making them specific" with real people and anecdotes, rather than numbing with numbers. When you are tempted to generalize, tell a story with specifics.
  4. Author and PR exec Liz O'Donnell, though an introvert, finds that storytelling requires connection--with an audience, and between her mind and her body when she's telling a story. "It’s been fun learning that this introvert can actually make these great connections with her audience – simply by speaking my truth," she says.
  5. Speechwriter Brian Jenner votes for surprise in your storytelling, saying it's "an important feature of any entertaining yarn." And as a humorist, if you've got a funny story to tell, he says the feedline and the punchline are essential to get right.
  6. Deloitte speechwriter Caroline Johns urges you to not lose the thread running through your story. A story with a sense of where it's going, she says, "packs a much bigger punch than a random collection of points, which is what many people seem to rely on." Her own storytelling came out of her history studies, and she says, "I love the way historians can tell completely different stories using exactly the same set of facts."
  7. Psychiatrist and author Candida Fink, MD, uses storytelling to explain complex medicine and science, and says the talk she most wants to give is "A story of brain development that may be happening atypically for many different reasons" in children and adolescents. In her line of work, storytelling has a goal to help parents and educators see that "if we just see kids as bad or defiant without figuring out what is going on with their development, we will lose them." What's your storytelling goal?

I've got two small-group workshops coming up on Creating a TED-quality talk in Washington, DC, in January. Choose the January 14 workshop or the January 28 workshop. All you need to do is bring your one big idea for a talk in the style of TED. You'll learn how to plan, write, time, practice, and deliver it in a group limited to 5 people per workshop. Join us! You get the best discount if you register by October 30, 2015.

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