Every speaker wants to connect with the audience. Without connection, no transformation takes place. Information alone is not enough to engage the listener and forge the emotional connection that will change the audience’s condition. For that, you need stories. Stories, and the oxytocin that results from experiencing them, are how we forge bonds of empathy with each other.
But there is a chance you are resisting that idea. I know this because I have seen it in my coaching. Clients say to me, “But, David, what if I don’t have a story to tell? I’ve got compelling information, and I believe I can be persuasive without telling a story.” Is this your sentiment as well?
Remember what I’ve said in this blog before about decision-making: it takes place in the emotional part of the brain. Before your information can make a difference to a listener, he or she has to make three key decisions: Do I accept this information as true? Is it worth the effort to remember it? Am I going to act on it? Those decisions will not go in your favor unless you make an emotional connection with the listener. Information alone does not do that; stories do.
Not only that, but you do have a story, whether you realize it or not. It’s the story of how you became convinced that the information you have is important enough to share. The story is already there; it just needs to be uncovered. Think of the following questions as tools you can use to uncover the story behind your data:
- What did this information mean to you when you first learned it?
- What need drove you to discover this information?
- What makes it so compelling that it must be shared?
- How are you living differently now that you are aware of this information?
- How has it made a difference to someone else?
- What difference might it have made had it been known sooner?
- When have you seen your evidence in action?
- What have you seen happen in the life of another person that brings this concept to life?
If you will spend some time thinking about—or better yet, writing down—your answers to these questions, I’m confident that one or more of them will lead you to a story. And that story, once shaped and fleshed out, will lead to a deeper connection with your audience and a greater acceptance of your information.