Every good public speaking coach will tell you that stories strengthen any presentation, speech or pitch. Stories put information into context. However, not every story is a good story or even the right story. So here are three rules to follow to help you identify the right stories.
This is one people often overlook. Your story may be perfect for your speech, but not for your audience. Each audience is different. Telling a story the majority of your audience can’t connect to, is worse than no story at all. So realize you may have to change stories each time you give that presentation. If not, it may feel like an inside joke that alienates you from the audience.
I have often seen speakers who include anecdotes or stories because they read in a book that they should. They never bothered to figure out how or why that story makes sense in their speech. If you don’t see the connection, why should they. Think of the story as a picture you are painting for your audience so they can remember your points and put them in context. Make sure your stories are a good fit.
First and foremost stories need to be true. An audience can usually sniff out a ‘planted’ story that was crafted for the occasion. They always fall flat and leave you looking like a twit. By the same token, I have seen people use other people’s stories as their own. While it is always more powerful to use personal stories, there are times when an experience that a client or colleague has had can be useful. However, if they are not your own you need to qualify that at the beginning. Give credit where credit is due. Keep it real.
So think about your audience, your information and your experiences. The stories that intersect all three are always the ‘right’ stories.