What stories do
Imagine you’re trying to get an audience to grasp a particular concept. You’ll probably want to convey hard data, facts and analysis - objective content, delivered in an informing or reflective style.
But if you illustrate your point with a story that has a personal edge, you’ll bridge the gap between you and the audience. Your voice will naturally become more musical and relational. You’ll connect with listeners on a human level by disclosing something of yourself.
Overall, your talk will combine the abstract with the concrete, the professional with the personal. The variations in colour and texture will be involving for the audience. Most importantly, your message will be more memorable than if you rely purely on information delivery.
Story power in action
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc, gave a speech to graduating students at Stanford University in 2005. It had quite an impact.
Jobs wanted to give three simple pieces of advice:
- Have faith that things will work out
- Don’t settle for a career you don’t like
- Life is short, so make the most of it
He told three stories to bring these ideas alive. The stories were personal and expressed in a natural, relaxed style. He spoke clearly, confidently and at a measured pace – no histrionics; nothing forced.
The content of the speech and the way it was delivered meant the audience could relate to it. A good many years on, it still has emotional power. See what you think.