Twice in the past week I have been asked about our thoughts on presentation skills training as part of learning to be an effective storyteller…
So, remembering that we are talking about business storytelling here, my advice is that you spend 98% of your effort thinking about the story: its point, the details necessary to make the point, emotion to give it impact and having something unanticipated.
About 2% of your effort should be around how you present the story. The best piece of advice I’ve heard on this is ‘just picture yourself in the moment and describe what you see’. Its absolutely essential that you tell people your story – never read it out to them.
If you do this, your body will move naturally and you won’t have to worry about it.
From our perspective, in business storytelling, authenticity is vital.
If you start using practised arm movements, walk in a studied way, or force yourself to be animated when its not your natural style, your listener might start thinking it looks a bit artificial. From there, it’s only a short step to them thinking your story might be artificial too.
And of course, if you start using ‘the storytelling voice’ …”the fog rolled in across the mountains like an ominous blanket”… – then, in business, your credibility is lost.
So, leave the studied use of arms, movement and voice to the professionals – Hollywood and kindergarten teachers.
In business, just do what is natural. Tell people the story and the rest will follow. Your job isn’t to entertain, it is to cut through, engage, be understood and remembered.
About Mark Schenk
Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on: