A speaker’s greatest tool is the use of stories since one story can be used to make a variety of points, depending on which is appropriate for the particular audience and situation. Flesh and blood stories to which they can truly relate in a human to human experience are necessary for emotional connection. That said, simply telling a story is not adequate; telling stories revolving around emotions deepens that connection.
What are the five traditional universal emotions? - happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust and fear. In the 1990’s, psychologist, Paul Ekman added amusement, contempt, contentment, embarrassment, excitement, guilt, pride in achievement, relief, satisfaction, sensory pleasure, and shame to the list.
Who can use them? Any speaker can. Regardless of which story you choose to tell, if it demonstrates some of these emotions and is important to you since it taught you a life-changing lesson, it may very well serve as a life-changing for others too.
What kind of stories should a speaker tell? - simple everyday stories!
Why are they important to use? These ‘slices of life’ simple stories
- can be told whenever a point needs to be anchored or emphasized, so the audience will have clarity on the take away the message and a desire to change for the better
- can deepen a connection between you and your audience since all people experience a variety of emotions at one time or another in their everyday lives, albeit in their own different personal and professional life stories
- can move people to action intellectually (mind) and emotionally (heart)
- can keep audiences interested and enticed, since they too are experiencing a roller coaster ride of emotions with your downs and closing with your ups
When and how can universal emotions be used in your speeches?
In the pre-writing and writing stages of your speech, ask yourself:
- What do I want my audience to think, feel, say, or do AFTER I finish speaking? (what is the lesson/message they will learn to enhance their life?
- Which personal/professional story/ies best demonstrate the universal emotions, from a conflict-ridden one to a positive life-changing one?
- Are my stories “YOU” focused? While the story may be your experience, the message is for them. It’s not about I, the speaker, but YOU, the audience
Am I at ease to disclose frailties, faults, failures, firsts, frustrations, flaws?(not only can you be humorous by disclosing a specific “F” but you don't appear 'special' and above them; instead, you make yourself similar to them)
Your next step: Do you have a story file? a life lesson file?
If not, I strongly sugggest you recall past stories that influenced you; recall their sights, sounds, and sensations. Remember, if they were important to you, they may very well be significant and life-enhancing for others. Whenever a story entertains, inspires, persuades you in any way, record it and add it to your continual growing collection of your greatest tool as a speaker!
Join me next month when we discuss the letter “V” as it relates to another story-telling skill.
Until then, happy speaking! :-)