Is Your Story Enough?

Develop Your Storytelling Skills

Developing your storytelling skills require us to reflect first on it’s everyday nature. For example, think about your purchases last month. For most, the buying process inevitably includes a recommendation. You took on board the oldest form of advertising known as word of mouth. In other words, we will seek or give opinions, share experiences, tell or listen to a ‘Story’. Proof that all of us have and are in fact already Storytellers.

So, the bigger question is why do we experience barriers to sharing our story? What are we consequently missing out on? Is there a way beyond barriers to Supercharge our Story?

You too can Develop Your Storytelling Skills by implementing lessons we have gleaned coaching 1000s of Storytellers; professional and aspiring.

Interestingly we noted themes that give way to powerful insights and lessons. However, first we must address where the barriers to effective Storytelling come from.

Scientifically Proven

If like many of our clients you are analytical, it is worth assuring yourself of the science and facts suggesting Storytelling is no longer a nice to have.

Neuroscience reveals that effective storytelling creates changes in the brain for both you and your audience. Mirror neurones, neural coupling and dopamine levels all shift when listening or telling a story which is explains why stories are memorable and impactful. Which explains why so many successful individuals and businesses using their Stories.

If doing so effectively they build attraction, drive consumption and create essential changes in consumer behaviour.

Why You Are Not Sharing Your Story?

Whilst a significant proportion of our clients fear Public Speaking or wish to improve their Impact and Delivery. An equal proportion lack Clarity and/or Confidence in their Personal or Business Story. Many cite an array of barriers that prevent them from harnessing the enormous benefits.  

The reason why can be illustrated by a familiar example. Picture the social situation. You’re at a work night out, after returning from your travels. You experienced adventure in Africa or wild camping in South America, yet loudmouth Dave’s story about the previous Friday night-out dominates the catch up! You find yourself sharing part of the story, look around at the group of listeners and think….’they look bored…over to you Dave tell us about what happened when you were trollied!’

Familiar? Why this happens is connected to the C word. Confidence! Most of us lack it – especially when having to share our Stories in front of a group. This is not the kind of physiological or competence-based confidence in the classical sense. The stand-up straight, chest out (which is for-sure part of it). It is centred on the interaction or lack of it.

Sharing Your Personal Story can make you feel no one is listening

For most the act of story sharing can feel too disconnected, too much like a monologue.

Picture it. You begin sharing and half-way through your audience (appear possibly bored, even distracted) That heart-sinking, gut-wrenching, demoralising self-doubt begins! You feel no one is interested and you naturally lose momentum.

Sharing A Message that Matters is Inherently Hard

You may be completely at ease catching up with one or two people. Sharing your stories, displaying passion, anxieties, joy or doubt. Add an audience (beyond 6 people) and there is a problem.

With intimate conversation, people communicate much-like a game of Tennis. Taking it in turns to set direction based on responses this in turn enriches and fuels the next response.

Getting live feedback from each other is the way we bounce off each other. Whether it is nods, Yes’s or other bits gesture based feedback it feels good. We feel a sense of being understood, a feeling of assurance as we relay information. The stimuli we receive whether verbal or non informs the speaker on what direction to take. It helps validate us and our message.

The World of Blank Audience Faces

Whilst the following point is an entire subject itself. It’s important to understand that most audience members will appear poker faced or blank.

There are a host of reasons why this is the case including the fact that audience members maybe concentrating (think of someone reading a book- focussed face) or as I tell people in my seminars picture the BLANK.. laptop or cinema face – the face people have when absorbed in something and when they think no one is watching!

The fact is unless you inform and remind audience members you CAN SEE them; they will behave as if they are invisible! The social norms, and the rules of audience etiquette mean many they will feel comfortable to simply just sit quietly with a blank expression!

For the new Storyteller speaking to a larger group, if this vital piece of expression and therefore feedback is missing something more sinister starts to fill to void. This will later your feelings, your thinking and ultimately how you tell your story. Please welcome the inner voice/critic.

 Your Inner Critic Leads  

In the absence of external stimuli many of us create our own. As we try to share our Story the inner voice overrides the feedback loop and this is a root cause of storytelling failure.

You start to play out assumptions and the sinking feeling of doubt takes over.  The familiar downward spiral takes over and impedes the Story you share; the way you deliver it and the impact you could make.

So, understanding this leads to some of the answers. Exceptional storytelling requires skill, feedback and practice. In other words, you need to develop the art of deep confidence in addition to a Story that is well-crafted, one that has genuine substance and will inspire.

Build and Tell Stories that Get Results

Over the last decade we have consistently pioneered coaching some of the best speakers and 1000s of aspiring speakers across the UK and the world. We have documented, synthesised and tested emerging themes, which when honed will help you develop your Storytelling Skills.

This is what underpins the many golden principles forming our Signature Story Blueprint used to help executive speaking clients build their Superpower Stories.

To receive your Part 2 of this Article – Share your Feedback in the Comments and Email info@publicspeakingacademy.co.uk with a request explaining what you would like to do with a powerful story and we will share the second part from our Signature Blueprint to help you develop your Storytelling Skills.

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3 Comments

  1. Reply

    Fahmi Mohamed

    10/09/2019

    Couldn’t agree any more with this. I initially lacked the confidence and when I overcame that, it is always the sinister voice that takes over and I start to make assumptions on whether I’m being judged, what the other person is thinking and then start to doubt my own message/story and the downward spiral continues. You lose your presence and you lose your message….

  2. Reply

    Roger Cheetham

    10/09/2019

    I whole heartedly agree with this article, it’s like a retrospective history of my own speaker journey. I very much had the initial inner chat, mentioned within it and constantly asked myself “who’s going to want to listen to this?”. Having found the courage, the article speaks of, not only now have I shared that story halfway across the world, but now get asked back by the same organisations to do so again. How I wish this article had existed when I started out on my speaker journey.

  3. Reply

    Chris Sissons

    10/09/2019

    Thank you for this article Billal. These notes are based on my third reading of your article. It is also the second attempt at writing the response because your website deemed my first attempt as spam and trashed it!

    1. My first comment is this article is about performance of stories and it’s worth noting the alternative is to publish stories. You can prepare written versions as well as video and audio versions. There are many opportunities to share published stories. For some people, publishing may be preferable to performance.

    2. The article also focuses on personal stories, stories from lived experience. There are many sound reasons for this, especially for stories told in a business context. Broadly, you have personal stories that you are ready to tell, stories you are planning to tell and stories you cannot and may never tell. The latter may be stories that become easier to tell with time but we all have stories we will never tell.

    3. Deciding to tell a particular story is rarely a simple decision. Even if you know people will benefit from hearing your story, you should not tell it if you are not ready to do so. When Billal mentions barriers to storytelling, it is worth asking whether the problem is with one particular story or all stories. If there is one story that you cannot tell, it does not prevent you telling other stories. If you struggle telling any story, then the problem is possibly confidence.

    4. You may find telling fictional stories is helpful. In business we rightly focus on true stories but should not exclude all fiction, so long as you are clear about what is fiction and what is true. But telling fictional stories can be good practice. Last night I told a ghost story to a storytelling group. The story was really about connection between lonely beings. My aim was to get the audience to shed a tear even though the ending was happy! Learning to create an emotional atmosphere is good practice.

    5. However, storytelling is immensely powerful and it can be used for evil as well as good. Consider the story behind “Make America Great Again”. I suspect most people reading this are appalled but it but it’s hard to deny it is a very effective story. Similarly, Brexit is a fascinating example. Remain may have the best arguments but has failed to find a single cohesive story. Leave on the other hand has a single story that you hear repeated time and again. It has nothing to do with Brexit but focuses on what should be a contested understanding of democracy.

    6. The part of the article I don’t agree with is the storytelling in a pub. Storytelling in informal environments is really difficult. What tends to happen there is exchange of anecdotes. Stories create an emotional space and it is really hard to do that when there are loads of interruptions. Simply recounting something that happened to you is not telling a designed story.

    I specialise in helping business people tell stories. I work with people online and in real life. If you live in Sheffield, UK you are welcome to join in with “Telling Stories: Making Business”. We meet twice a month to work together on someone’s business related story. It’s a lunch and learn and you learn a lot helping someone else tell their story for their business. If you would like to take part or even tell your story, you can contact me through PSA. And storytellers get a free lunch!


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