The Art of Storytelling: Your Life as a Tapestry of Stories

hugh anthony, certified lifestyle speaker · author · lifestyle coach
You might ask yourself—Do I have a story worth being told? I’m here to poignantly remind you, yes, you do!!

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From your childhood to where you are today and where your life’s goal will take you, there are a myriad of stories on the journey that forms a tapestry. Whether you choose to share them or not, your life is a smorgasbord of experiences. Just reflect on an amazing experience or a challenging moment.

Or better yet, you have the opportunity to hear and share stories in your daily encounters whether at work, school, home, church, out to an event listening or presenting, having fun, vacationing or with friends, they all form the tapestry of your stories that helps to shape your perspective.

Just take a moment.

Reflect.

Emergent, there is a story.

Think of your favourite story that was shared by your mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa; or perhaps by a favourite uncle or aunt, a friend, a colleague, your childhood friend or a speaker. Your recollection of that story might just be a powerful lesson learnt—a gem for life, a memorable moment, a thought—shared or idea.

The power of your story is packed with life lessons, triumphs, challenges, inspiration. You can share your story and empower people around you, who are able to connect with your story in an emotional way.

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You may be asking— how do I emotionally connect my story with my audience? So what makes a story or public speaking presentation contextually captivating? How can you improve your ability to tell stories that resonates and inspires? We all have this life skill, we tell stories every day. Storytelling is an essential aspect of everyday living from both from a cultural and social perspective.

Sharing your stories and having your audience listening to them through storytelling helps to connect your audience with the essence of your stories. You take your audience on a journey with you, broadening their imagination through your shared experience of difference or similarity. They take a cultural tour of your life and curating their own understanding of your experiences – because they can relate anecdotally to lived-experiences in our common humanity – love, joy, happiness, kindness, sadness, pain, failures, successes, dreams and adventures.

Your audience will remember your stories, not necessarily your statistics. They will remember the ideas you shared through the narratives gleaned.

Storytelling is an art form that is an interactive dialogue between the teller and their audience engaging in an interwoven tapestry of words, sounds, visuals, imagination, emotional and sensory narrative.

Storytelling is simple, yet powerful and they are three key elements to sharing your story with your audience.

  1. The Why Matters – You want your audience to know why your story matters by giving context to the presentation, so they can relate to it. Is it relevant? Will it challenge your audience? Will it let them understand what the essence of your presentation is? Is it about what success entails or what failures you have encountered and what your triumphs are?
  1. The How Matters – Your audience came to interact with you. By sharing their time to listen and be engaged in your presentation, and how you make them understand your story is essential. The ‘how’ matters in your presentation, as it is your gift to your audience. Make it personal, the audience is in attendance to hear from you. Being authentic is important to the ‘how’ and sharing your vulnerabilities and triumphs aid in connecting with your audience.
  1. The WOW Factor – By understanding the Why and How you get – WOW. Create the WOW in your story. That is what your audience will remember long after your presentation is over. They may not always remember what you said and how you said it, however, what matters most to your audience is the WOW Factor – how did you make them feel? That will be the audiences take away. Did you connect with them emotionally, spiritually or culturally? Were they empowered to do what mattered? That’s the WOW factor!

The key elements make your story memorable, powerful, and unforgettable. This is how your presentation resonates with your audience, because the only take away they may have, is not what you said, but how you shared your story, and how it made them feel.

Your storytelling should begin by having an understanding of your audience, first and foremost. What is the message you want to share with your story? What is the one thing you want to matter to your audience with your story? They form the mosaic to relate your story. How do you begin telling your story to an audience?

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To help you become a better storyteller and public speaker, let me share my SpeakSIMPLE™ Technique that I have used to connect with my audiences over the past two decades.

SpeakSIMPLE™ Technique

The essence of this technique is to help you speak your story in a simple, yet engaging way. As individuals our lives are a tapestry of interwoven stories, be it from a cultural or situated experience. Storytelling is at the heart of who we are as human beings, existing in a collective – family, social groups and organizations such as school, church, sports, community and service clubs, fraternities and sororities — no matter what space you are speaking.

The SpeakSIMPLE™ Technique emerges from six simple steps to guide you in developing your dialogue for your audience that are guided by a question; and the perspective that public speaking and storytelling are essential life skills. Here goes, when you are telling your story or doing your public speaking presentation:

What is the Single Important Motivational Point for a Listening Ear?

  • Single – What is the single idea that you want to share with your audience. This forms the narrative for your story or presentation to your audience. You begin by building a structure around this idea for your storytelling or public speaking presentation.
  • Important – idea. How important is the idea you have identified? Will it inspire or is it interesting. Once you have an understanding of your audience, then you will choose the former – inspiration. Your idea is of interests to you, however how important is it to set an inspiring pathway for your storytelling journey or public speaking presentation? The importance of the idea will strengthen the scenes (think of a play or even a movie) of your story. View how your audience would think of thoughts from our common humanity – love, joy, pain, loss and happiness. This forms the beginning of the tapestry of your story.
  • Motivational – Will your story or presentation resonate with your audience? Yes, it will, once it is motivational. Your story or presentation should give your audience a reason to reflect on their actions, thoughts, desires and even their behaviours. The essence of the WOW in your storytelling and public speaking presentation continues from here. The trust you will build is critical, even though the truth hurts, however it helps to redefine our audience’s motives and motivation. So, should your story and your public speaking presentation.
  • Point – The point of your story is personal. How does it matter to you in connecting with your audience? Your idea that you have identified, should build on the point that garner the audience’s attention. This is where your interwoven tapestry happens. The point of your story is to bring awareness or inspiration that elicits change, challenges the status quo or at least questions it, provokes thought and candor in the individual’s life in your audience; or their businesses. The point of your story is what builds the excitement – the fever pitch – for you and your audience. This point is where resonance of the WOW factor emerges.
  • Listening – The individual in your audience listens for three reasons – to accept, build trust and to reject (that is why it is important to know your audience – their interests, demographic, knowledge and experience). Listening to what your audience is interested in is key to your storytelling. Share with them why they should listen to your story, why it is important for them (the three key elements – the why, the how, the WOW!!). When you think of listening to your audience and your audience listening to you, begin with the end in mind.
  • Ear – There is a probability that individuals in your audience will have two ears. However, as the listener, they might lend you one ear for your storytelling. If that’s the case you are off to a good start. In our digitally-connected world, attention spans are at a premium, and as a storyteller a public speaker, you are reminded that you have spent your life listening either formally or informally. To get both ears of your listener in your audience, ensure your storytelling connect with their heart and emotions. It is engaging to the listener, it is short, interesting and soothing to both ears, and the soul.

Your role as a storyteller or a public speaker is having both ears of the listener and that is when you have their full attention, and as Bryant A. McGill noted, “it is one of the most sincere forms of respect”.

The process of becoming a better storyteller or an exceptional public speaker is guided by you; harnessing your experiences through learning, training and coaching along with some measure of creativity and imagination. Storytelling and public speaking are life skills that will help you to be exceptionally successful in your personal and professional life. They both assist us having a better understanding of ourselves and our audience, which creates a synergistic relationship. The three key elements will help you to integrate your storytelling and your public speaking presentation. They will foster authenticity and create a value-added experience for your audience.

The SpeakSIMPLE™ Technique will help you as a storyteller and public speaker to add some valuable content and strategy to your story. The techniques have worked tremendously for both my corporate and personal clients that I have coached and assisted in curating their stories over the years.

Your story is your life’s mosaic. Being the curator and artist, your responsibility is to reflect on what matter to you and your audience. Your role as a storyteller and public speaker is to design how you are going to share your art — this interwoven tapestry which is the very essence of your life – your story.

© Hugh Anthony 2015

About

Hugh Anthony is a certified lifestyle speaker, author and lifestyle coach for executives, creative and transitioning professionals. He is committed to helping individuals transform their passions into possibilities to enhance value creation by harnessing their lifestyle and experience to be more meaningful, purposeful and profitable.

Hugh Anthony is the Co-Founder | Consulting Lifestyle Director of Consulate| Milieu®, a boutique lifestyle consultancy firm based in Toronto, Canada that specializes in coaching, live and virtual events, training workshops an avid lifestyle projects for its diverse clientele. He is an authority on public speaking and presents on topics relating to speaking and presentation, leadership and value creation. His forthcoming book The Ultimate Guide to Public Speaking: 7 Steps to Professional Mastery will be published Summer 2016.

© Hugh Anthony 2015

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