The best speeches and presentations are stories and the best stories are stories from the heart. Everyone has thousands of stories to tell — unless you’ve been living in a cave your whole life in which case, I want to hear all about the cave!
Despite all the new communication technology we have available to us, face-to-face communication and storytelling are still the most powerful methods we have of communicating, engaging and persuading our audiences. That has been true since the dawn of humans.
Why are stories so powerful? Data makes us think, but stories make us feel. Data is important to bolster credibility but stories create an emotional bond and that is what drives us to get our butts out of our chairs to take action. Supporting data combined with compelling stories are an unstoppable combination.
Telling the stories of your business can have a powerful effect on your customers, employees, shareholders, community leaders and others.
I once saw the Chairman of the Board of a large retail chain move a group of store directors to tears when he told stories of how the company was disappointing customers over and over again due to the poor layout of the stores. He made a solid case for change using data, but it was the storytelling that moved the store directors to embrace the changes and take immediate action.
In another example, I once helped developed employee safety communications for a global mining and manufacturing company. We were able to present lots of data to make the case for following safe work practices, but it was the story a widow told about the tragic accident that took her husband’s life that made the biggest impact on the employees.
In public speaking and business presentations, it is important to remember that data feeds our brain but stories feed our souls. So speak about your passions. If you speak from your heart, they’ll listen with theirs.