Tell Your Story

By Tracy MacDonald
Mar 2021
Image courtesy of Mentatdgt via Pexels

 

“Wait. Let me share my screen.”

How many times have you used or heard this phrase? If you’re like most people, the answer is “too many.”

While remote working and video calls enabled us to keep our businesses going, redefined business models, or taught us how to do things differently, people are becoming screened-out. And yet, until face to face meetings return, this may be our future for a while. But this future doesn’t have to mean death by powerpoint.

No offense to slide-based presentations, they will always have their place. One of the greatest mistakes people make though, is saying out loud what others can read on a screen. If we remember the purpose of powerpoint, and the value of face to face meetings, we can combine both of those things in a meaningful way that creates an emotional connection with our audience, brings them into our world, and sets the platform for the information that is to follow.

Storytelling.

When we look at people and make eye contact and speak to them with passion, emotion, concern, humor, and humility we are sharing ourselves, not our screens, with our audience. We are connecting and making a point at the same time. Storytelling also provides a more relatable jumping off point for the message and provides context for whatever the main message is. If you’re not a natural storyteller, that’s okay. There are plenty of examples out there to model your own style after and there are some basics to help you create a framework.

An easy reference point to start with is Ted Talks. If you listen to them carefully, there are a few things one can notice outside of the main message being sent. They are personal- we see people, not just information. They are funny- at some point there is laughter in the audience. They are relatable- what is being shared is both broad enough and specific enough to be familiar. And finally, they are short- between 12 and 18 minutes. That is the art.

The science of storytelling follows a pattern of the basic arc and exists in books, articles, television shows and movies. Stories start off with some background information, bringing the audience into the world of the storyteller. Then there is the build up and progression of the story line and character development with the climax at about 85% of the way through. Finally, there is the conclusion. In most cases, when we are reading, hearing, or watching a story, these are not the things we are noticing because we are so absorbed in the story, which is exactly the point.

Between the art and the science of storytelling, any one of us can learn to share our information or get started by connecting with the audience before jumping right into a presentation.

Don’t share your screen- be your screen.

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